Welp!

I was, at one point, housing hopeful. I was eager and excited for the opportunities offered to me. I scoured the websites, WikiCU, Bwog coverage, and many more sources in hopes of determining where I might spend my next year. Housing selection was my oyster as I imagined the possibilities of pearls in each room in a delusional fantasy, assuming I would get the best housing number in my class.

I didn’t.

Which was fine—I didn’t have the worst number but I was certainly far from the best number. After moving through stages of grief, I thumbed through my many, many, many backup plans. I settled into debating the benefits and downsides of double, the buildings, the location, the sizing, the window orientations, etc. The trends of prior years were traced and I determined my most likely course of action between the estimated available McBain or Wien doubles.

One week of housing passed. I checked the real-time portal religiously and found that the number of beds available were low—alarmingly so. It doesn’t take a math major to realize that the number of beds available in selection eliminates housing choice for a considerable number of rising sophomores.

THE MATH

Columbia Housing did not post a master PDF this year. Previously, they did. Students could see group names, group sizes, lottery numbers, and lottery times. This year, students received a PDF of lottery numbers and group sizes but notably neither names nor time.

Beds Remaining: The number of spots available in selection.

Beds Remaining Formula:

[2 Beds x # of Studio Doubles] + [1 Bed x # of Corridor Single] + [2 Beds x # of Corridor Doubles] + [7 Beds x # of seven Person 47 Claremont Suites] + [8 Beds x # of 8 Person Ruggles Suites] = Beds Remaining

Beds Remaining Calculation:

[2 Beds x 9 of Studio Doubles] + [1 Bed x 69 of Corridor Single] + [2 Beds x 418.5 of Corridor Doubles] + [7 Beds x 9 of seven Person 47 Claremont Suites] + [8 Beds x 7 # of eight Person Ruggles Suites] = 1,043 Beds Remaining.

Number of Students Left:

Number of Students Left Formula:

[# of Rising Juniors remaining in selection] + [# of Students in Mixed Number groups from 3000 to 3999] + [# of Rising Sophomores in selection] = Students Remaining

Based on timing, it appears housing times are divided between four days for grade levels. The last day of housing selection for rising juniors is April 25, 2022. As a result, about a quarter of registered juniors will select at this time. The estimated size of the class of 2024 is greater than 1,400 students. A quarter of that would be an estimated 350 students selecting on Monday.

A liberal estimate would place 2700 as the earlier lottery appointment on Monday. A more realistic estimate will place it at 2800. We will use both these numbers to estimate the two cutoffs. I’ll refer to the liberal estimate as the “2700 line” and the realistic estimate as the “2800 line.”

2700 Estimate:

Based on the lottery number and group size PDF, there are 363 rising juniors with lottery numbers (2700–2999). Then there are 94 students in mixed number groups (3000–3999). Lastly, there are 1,222 rising sophomores remaining (4000–5000).

Calculation:

363 Rising Juniors + 94 Mixed Number + 1,222 Rising Sophomores= 1,679 Students.

2800 Estimate:

Based on the lottery number and group size PDF, there are 240 rising juniors with lottery numbers (2000–2999). Then there are 94 students in mixed number groups (3000–3999). Lastly, there are 1,222 rising sophomores remaining (4000–5000).

Calculation:

240 Rising Juniors + 94 Mixed Number + 1,222 Rising Sophomores= 1,555 Students.

Number of Students Unable to Pick: The difference between beds in the system and people in the system.

Number of Students Unable to Pick Formula:

Students Left – Beds Remaining = Students unable to pick.

2700 Line Calculation:

1,679 Students – 1,043 Beds = 635 Students unable to pick.

2800 Line Calculation:

1,555 – 1,043 = 512 Students unable to pick.

Lottery Cutoffs: Using the lottery number and group size PDF gets us the cutoff by determining the number of students after the number.

2700 Line Cutoff: 4486 is the last lottery number to pick.

2800 Line Cutoff: 4610 is the last lottery number to pick.

Students with lottery numbers after these values will likely be put on the housing waitlist.

THE MEANING

According to Columbia Admissions, there are 1,569 students in the class of 2025.

% On Sophomore Waitlist:

% Of CU 2025 On Sophomore Waitlist Formula:

([Students unable to pick]/1,569 Rising Sophomores) x 100% = % Of Class on waitlist.

% Of CU 2025 in Lottery Unable to Pick Formula:

([Students unable to pick]/1,222 Rising Sophomores) x 100% = % In Lottery on waitlist.

2700 Line:

% Of CU 2025 On Sophomore Waitlist Calculation:

(635 Students Unable to Pick/1,569 Total Rising Sophomores) x 100% = 40.47% on waitlist.

% Of CU 2025 in Lottery Unable to Pick Calculation:

(635 Students Unable to Pick/1,222 Total Rising Sophomores) x 100% = 51.96% on waitlist.

2800 Line:

% Of CU 2025 On Sophomore Waitlist Calculation:

(512 Students Unable to Pick/1,569 Total Rising Sophomores) x 100% = 32.63% on waitlist.

% Of CU 2025 in Lottery Unable to Pick Calculation:

(512 Students Unable to Pick/1,222 Total Rising Sophomores) x 100% = 41.90% on waitlist.

REFLECTION

An estimated 500-640 students will be on the sophomore housing waitlist this year, assuming no additional rooms are added to the portal. This corresponds to the housing lottery range 4480-4620 as the cutoff numbers. The lottery numbers may change as students miss their appointment times, enabling later groups to pick rooms. In proportions, this is about 32.63-40.47% of the class of 2025.

What is the waitlist? Columbia Housing explains it here. Importantly, “all guaranteed students will receive an assignment, in some cases it requires additional time or a ‘waitlist.’” If you have guaranteed housing, you will receive a housing assignment. This may require registration on the sophomore housing waitlist. Make sure to register if necessary to ensure that Columbia Housing can assign you a room. For last year’s sophomore waitlist, students were supposed to receive notification of their assignment by June 1st.

Supposedly, there are unlisted floors in buildings that Columbia Housing can assign to students. Rooms also become available as students fail to sign their occupancy agreement, cancel their housing contract, take a semester or year off, decide to study abroad, or transfer.

On a broader scale, housing is a vital resource for undergraduate students. It necessitates an important point of discussion about undergraduate expansion, especially in where an expanded student body will reside. Linked to this is Columbia’s role in Harlem, especially in the university’s expansion in Manhattanville. Living spaces rely on owned real estate. And expansion without proper planning means invasion into neighborhood spaces.

Alphonse Legros, Desperate Man (Le desespere) via Wikimedia Commons