A Frosh New Start

College gets warm and fuzzy for the Harry Potter generation

John Russell / Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University spent $150 million to create freshmen-only housing and trimmed its class size to 1,570 so all first-years would fit in the new 10-dorm complex in Nashville, called the Commons.

If you've ever seen a new England boarding school or a Harry Potter film, you can picture the scene in Nashville: an idyllic campus with kindly professors who head the dorms, a dining hall that's a social hub and a living room, interhouse rivalries and organized activities galore. But if you're thinking high school, think just a little bit higher; this is the Commons at Vanderbilt University, a brand-new campus within a campus to house the entire class of 2012, 10 professors and its own Dumbledore-like dean. The school spent $150 million and a decade creating this community, designed to help...

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