This Is How The Housing Lottery Works

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No one ever really explained it to us, so we figured we’d explain it to you, our sweet, sweet readers. Read on for a step-by-step of how the lottery works. In the next few days, we’ll be posting what you should know about every dorm on campus, links to dorm reviews and tips, how to get Barnard housing as a Columbia student, and why the McBain shaft is okay in the end. Housing registration opened yesterday and continues until March 10th at 5 PM. Happy lottery!

  1. Everyone registers.  You can either do Suite Selection with 1 to 7 other people or go straight to General Selection.  If you opt for Suite Selection, you get to participate in General Selection with the same lottery number if you decide not to make a room choice during Suite Selection or if there is no suite available for your group size.  Registration takes place on the Housing website starting March 1.  Each group must have a person picked as the “coordinator” to act as a point person.
  2. Lottery and priority numbers are assigned.  Each group (Suite) or person (General) is assigned a priority number and a lottery number.  Priority: 10 = rising sophomore, 20 = rising junior, 30 = rising senior (based on the semester you started at Columbia, not on your current standing).  For a group, the group priority is the average of all the group members’ priorities.  Lottery numbers are assigned to each group in Suite Selection and each individual in General Selection at random from 1-3000.  They are independent of priority numbers.  Your Suite Selection appointments times are assigned first by priority number then by lottery number.  E.g., a senior with lottery number 3000 picks before a junior with lottery number 200.  Exception: Groups picking into a 5-person EC Exclusion Suite (3 singles, 1 double in EC) will have a priority number that is the average of the highest three priority numbers in their group.
  3. Suite selection appointment times are assigned.  Read Bwog every day during Suite Selection for our LiveBwog of the remaining suites available.  At the end of the 30-point priority appointment times, groups of seniors may regroup with other seniors to form new configurations with new randomly-assigned lottery numbers valid only for Senior Regroup.  If a group of seniors still fails to select a suite, they then fall to General Selection with their original priority number.  At the end of the 10-point priority appointment times, 10-point groups may split into group of two to pick into corridor doubles.  Otherwise, they also drop to General Selection.
  4. After the hullabaloo of Suite Selection, General Selection appointment times are posted.  General Selection is done online, not in person.
  5. After selection is over: If you’re a sophomore and you did not get assigned a room, you go on a wait list and get whatever is left over after Housing makes final assignments.  If you do not like your room selection, you may apply for summer transfer.  The people who apply for summer transfer get to pick again in reverse-Lottery number order.

Remember: every participant has two numbers: a priority and a lottery number.
Priority: 10 = rising sophomore, 20 = rising junior, 30 = rising senior.

…And just in case our collegiate tone didn’t elucidate things, Housing has jumped on the video bandwagon and posted an explanatory video, featuring CC senior Cliff, on facebook – in HD!

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  1. Anonymous  

    suites are 1-8 ("up to seven friends" plus yourself...Ruggles)

  2. Anonymous  

    wait so if you're a rising sophomore in a group of 2, do you do general or suite selection?

    • If you are two sophomores  

      Go into suite selection as a group of two. If you have a mediocre number, you can get a double together. If you have a great number, you can drop into general selection and each pick singles (even near each other if you are that lucky).

  3. ha  

    Priority: 10 = rising sophomore, 20 = rising junior, 30 = rising senior (based on the semester you started at Columbia, not on your current standing)

    This is false. I am a rising senior who transferred to Columbia and got a Priority Rating of 30 points when I registered.

    • umm  

      That statement only applies to people who are graduating early, i.e. if you're technically a rising junior but plan to graduate one year early, you won't be granted the 'rising senior' equivalence of 30 points.

  4. confused  

    wait, what is usually considered an average lottery number? is the distribution of numbers on either side of 1500 the same (ie, presumably there are not exactly 3000 groups per grade, so if there are 2000 groups of rising sophomores, are the lottery numbers spread totally randomly or equally distributed?)?

  5. Confused also  

    Where do you sign up for Suite Selection? I don't see the option anywhere

  6. wait so  

    when do we actually see what numbers we got?

  7. Cliff  

    c'mon bwog, can I at least get a tag? :)

  8. Anonymouse  

    For sophomore pair-up, do you get to choose during your original suite selection time?

    • i'd  

      like to know the answer to this question too. Is it better for a group of 6 rising sophs who want to live near each other to register in Suite selection as a group of 6 and do sophomore pairup or to just register as three groups of 2 and select doubles that way? Like, if you do the first one would you select after everyone else who doesn't do sophomore pairup?

  9. fakk  

    I picked suite and I was supposed to pick general and now I cant change it on the application. Any ideas for what I should do?

  10. still slightly confused  

    if you drop to general, your number remains the same, correct?

  11. senior regroup  

    Can/Do senior regroups take EC exclusion suits?

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