Room Selection registration
Room Selection registration is the first phase of the Room Selection process. This is one of the most cut-throat, political, and personally challenging exercises in calculated gambling you'll take part in during college. Friendships will be tested, alliances of convenience forged, and drama will ensue.
It can help a great deal to have a strategy, several of which are detailed here: housing strategies.
Students may sign up either:
- as a group to participate in Group Suite Selection to try to get a double or suite
- as a group to participate in General Selection
- as an individual to participate in General Selection for a single in a corridor-style residence hall, or if unlucky, a double
In 2020, Room Selection moved to a completely-virtual format, with just the group leader assigning all rooms within the group.
Groups in Group Suite Selection
Group sizes can range from 2 to 8. You'll only be able to pick a suite that exactly matches your group size. E.g., 2 people can only pick a double, or 5 people can only pick a 5-person suite. Groups of two can only have Columbia students. Groups of 3 or more must be at least 50% composed of Columbia students. As of 2011, you may no longer invoke the EC exclusion rule. EC exclusion suites are treated as any other suite would be.
Groups in Group Suite Selection can only choose suites that are the exact size of their group. That is, a group of 6 cannot split up into 3 groups of 2 in suite selection - they can only choose 6-person suites (if available). If there are no remaining suites matching the size of the group, the group must drop to General Selection, where they can split up as they desire.
The size of your group therefore has serious consequences during the selection stage. You can only pick a room of the same size as your group, and invariably there will be more groups of every size than there are suites of that size. The exception is groups of 2 because even when studios and apartments in Watt and Woodbridge (coveted by senior and junior groups of 2) run out, there are doubles in McBain and Nussbaum (refuge of sophomores, and disappointed juniors). As a result, choosing what size group you want to register other than 2 becomes a very big deal in attempting to gain an elusive edge since there are always inefficiencies in group size distribution. Most of the fluctuation in group size registrations in the lottery can be attributed to students picking group sizedsbased on a rough guess as to which will be the 'best' size to choose based on the previous years lottery. And from that comes the politics - in some cases excluding friends to trim down to the right size, in others 'recruiting' warm bodies to get to the right size, and perhaps in the process scuttling another group's attempt to find the right size.
Groups and individuals in General Selection
In General Selection you may sign up as an individual or as a group with your friends (e.g. you want to be in a single near your friends). Group sizes can range from 2 to 10.
As an individual you will have the option of picking a single during the second phase of selection stage (after all the groups have tried to pick a room), or if there are no singles left by your turn (which is very likely if you're a sophomore), picking into an empty, or half-double that another unfortunate sophomore has already picked into. These rooms are called blind doubles, since you might be picking into a room with a stranger (unless you can find a friend or acquaintance in similar situation).
- Men and women may form groups together for Group Suite Selection and General Selection. However, doubles can only be assigned to students of the same gender.