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Bwog Explains The Housing Lottery

Housing registration for Columbia and SEAS students for the 2019-2020 school year closes this Thursday, March 7th. Lottery numbers for each registered group will be available on March 26th, post-spring break. Confused about how it all works? Internal Editor Zoe Sottile breaks it down. 

Ah, yes, the housing lottery, that daring equalizer of men. You might think you’re hot shit but the Columbia housing lottery truly does not care.

Ok. So. There are two parts of every lottery number. Your priority value is going to be a number in the range of 10 to 30 connected to your year. Rising sophomores, you’re 10; rising juniors, you’re 20; rising seniors, you get 30. In a mixed group, this value represents the average of the priority values of all members of the group – so a rising senior and a junior registered as a group of two would have a value of 25. You want this value to be high. Seniors pick first, then juniors, then sophomores.

On the other hand, you want your actual lottery number to be low. This second part is a randomly assigned value between 1-3000. If you’re an individual registered for Online Selection, you get one lottery number for yourself. On the other hand, if you’re registered in a group of two to eight people for In-Person Selection, your whole group will be assigned one lottery number. The lower your lottery number, the earlier your Room Selection time and the more options will be available to you.

After you get your lottery number, you’ll be assigned a Room Selection time. Your Room Selection time is based first on your priority value then on your lottery number – i.e., a rising senior who got 2500 will still select before a rising sophomore who got 300. If you’re registered for In-Person Selection, this will be the time that you (or a proxy) actually go to the John Jay Lounge to select your assignment. If you registered for Online Selection, you’ll get your Room Selection time a little later and you can pick from the remaining rooms online.

All the vocab makes things a little confusing, but housing really isn’t that bad. And Bwog will be there for you every step of the way. Freshpeople and confused old people, send your questions about housing to or drop them in comments below. And Barnard students, we’ll be explaining your system next.

Image via Max Pixel.

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