I lived in Birch Hall in the fall of my freshman semester. I enjoyed the convenience of being so close to everything on campus. It was a little dated, but I enjoyed the character of the older residence halls over the sterility of the newer ones to the north of campus.
The spring semester of my freshman year I relocated out to Storms Hall (RIP). I found the Towers to be a neat little community encapsulated out on the very far south of campus. It was great to be that close the Ice Arena, and the hills nearby for sledding. I thought the accommodations were acceptable, but the distance from campus factored heavily in my attendance.
It would be a disservice to the guys at 237 Ash if I didn't chime in about the Kappa Sigma house. Humble guys from diverse backgrounds, hard working and genuine. I owe it to them to give them a strong endorsement on here but they've earned it over the past year. I don't pound my chest about the fact that I was a fraternity guy, but I feel like Coach Rhoads does about his team.
It was great to be close to the ice arena too...man do I miss going out to the hockey games, sneaking cans under our coats and watching the zamboni driver come back out after he was done and spin donuts. Had a couple of players on our floor our sophomore year...they only made it through 1 year of college sad to say, but boy did they like to party and liven things up when needed!
I'll give a shout out for BLF (Barton/Lyon/Freeman) and the rest of the dorms in RCA...sure, the lack of air conditioning wasn't the greatest, Lyon is haunted, and its a long haul if you're an engineer to get to the "good" side of campus, but it's worth it in my opinion. Different sort of set-up than MWL or Friley.
Linden is great. Highly suggest it.
The first thing to do is to check out the learning communities. If the friend is serious about studying, being with like majors is a plus. Also do more investigating about where classes will be held for his field of study. Actually visit the campus and look at the options. Decide what things are most important - studying? socializing? location? air conditioning? amenities? Like stated before, rooms range from basic old dorm rooms to semi-luxury suites.
My wife and I were in the residence halls all 4 years (me in Friley and her in Maple) and had a great time. Our oldest son was in Friley and BWR and both of his houses were dead socially. Our daughter spent 2 years in the dorms, 1 year at a sorority (which ended up like we were afraid it would), and a year in an apartment, so no clue on her. Our last son, now at ISU, spent his first 2 years in a learning community in Friley and loved it. Third year spent a semester abroad and then Freddy court. He is now in a fraternity (one of the best academically) and loves it there also.
It's a crap shoot. Make a visit, do the homework, and make an educated decision. Even then, nothing is guaranteed. Roommates come in all types and it's the luck of the draw. A dorm contract is for 1 year, but could change rooms at the semester within the residence hall system, if a room is available.
It all starts with personal preferences. Good luck to your friend.