Housing lottery

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The housing lottery is the heart of the Room Selection process.

Students have until a deadline to register for the lottery. Once the deadline passes the computer lottery is run and a schedule is generated, sorted by point values and lottery numbers (see below for explanations).

The order in which students select their room is determined by a combination of point value and lottery number. A student with 30 points and lottery number 1 gets to choose his room first, all the way up to a student with 30 points and lottery number 3000, who in turn gets to choose his room before a student with 20 points and lottery number 1, and so on down the ranks. Appointment dates and times are assigned accordingly.

Students then try to determine exactly what they'll be able to get, especially by referring to the cutoff history.

Point values

Once Room Selection registration is over, each group or individual is assigned a point value ranging from 10 to 30 according to senior/junior/sophomore status as follows:

  • rising seniors get 30 points
  • rising juniors get 20 points
  • rising sophomores get 10 points

Senior/junior/sophomore status is determined based on the year a student entered Columbia, not on the year he expects to graduate. If students form a group for a double or suite, the group point value is the average of its Columbia College and SEAS members (but not Barnard College members).

Lottery numbers

Next, each group or individual is assigned a random, computer-generated lottery number ranging from 1 to 3000. (Groups share a single lottery number.)

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