A Fresh View: Housing Lottery Time (!!!)

IMG_2507Hey! I’m Nicole Fleming and I’m a blogger for A Fresh View. I’m here to share with you some of my experiences as a first-year student, the ups and downs of my transition to college, and why Brown is the best place to be a freshman!

The Housing Lottery. Three short words that cause a whole lot of stress for Brown students of all year levels. Brown’s annual housing lottery is more than just a casual selection of rooms for the upcoming year. It’s most definitely not a “no-big-deal-whatever-works” kind of thing. Instead, it’s a multi-week process full of twists and turns, hoops to jump through, and last-minute changes of plans. As a first-year, I was very uncertain about how to tackle this room selection challenge. The whole process – from gathering a housing group to the actual two minutes of room selection – seemed overwhelming. And, after hearing my fair share of horror stories from upperclassmen, I felt I had reason to worry.

But – don’t fear – I’m not here to scare you. I’m actually going to try and convince you that, despite what you may have heard from Brown students or college guidebooks, the housing lottery is actually not the end of the world.

For starters, Brown guarantees housing for all of its sophomores. No one is going to miss out on housing and be forced to sleep in a tent on the main green (just imagine how miserable that would be in the winter). And, although some of Brown’s dorms are undeniably better than others (as with any school), none of them are just horrible. After doing some research and taking some dorm tours, I discovered that each building truly has pros and cons. So, there is no housing option that’s going to lead to sudden death.

My housing lottery process began in finding a housing group – the people that I wanted to enter the lottery with. Everyone in a housing group picks rooms at the same time (which is made possible by averaging the individual lottery numbers of everyone in the group). For example, a group of six could pick six singles, three doubles, or two triples. By entering with a group, I knew that I could not only choose my roommate, but also the people in the rooms next to mine. This was reassuring – even if I got stuck in one of the “worse” buildings, I’d have my best friends living next to me. For me, that was much more important than the quality of the building itself. I know that some people had trouble forming a housing group, but my observation was that, as long as you discuss potential groups early in the semester, there’s usually not a big problem – with a little preparation, everyone can figure out a plan before the actual time to choose rooms rolls around.

Once I found my housing group, the next challenge was determining which buildings would suit us best. This step was a little difficult since many of the people in my group had different needs. For instance, my humanities classes are mostly on the main green, whereas many of my STEM-concentrating friends wanted to be closer to the science buildings. However, we thought we (finally!) had the perfect compromise figured out… until we got our lottery number. It wasn’t awful, but it was definitely not high enough for the building we were hoping to get. Okay, so that was a bit of a curveball, but nothing we couldn’t handle. After calling a team meeting, complete with pizza and cookies, we made a list of new options. We toured a few buildings, got advice from upperclassmen, and made a new ranking – one that would be ready to go for the day of the lottery.

And, thankfully, it all worked out. Although our original first-choice building was taken by the time we picked rooms, there were plenty of good options left. In fact, now that we’ve picked a building, I’ve already started to focus on the positives of that building rather than worry about what I may have missed.

Even though the housing lottery worked out for me, many prospective students may still wonder: “But what about the horror stories of the lottery?” I won’t lie; I have friends who didn’t have a great experience with the lottery. Many people got lottery numbers much lower than what they were hoping for. And some found themselves out of luck with a group with an odd number of people and only doubles remaining – a fact that forced them to wait until the summer lottery to find out their housing assignments. But, it seems to me that these problems can be avoided. For starters, the problem of getting a lower lottery number than expected is a bummer, but nothing that can’t be remedied with some reevaluation of previously-unconsidered buildings. And, although sometimes entering the housing lottery with a group with an odd number of people seems unavoidable, it’s definitely best to go in with an even number if at all possible – that can solve a lot of problems. These two easy tips make the housing lottery nothing to worry about.

So, if you’re worried about the housing lottery, don’t be. It’s always a stressful time of year, but it’s nothing that’s going to end in disaster. In fact, it’s more exciting than anything – by choosing my housing for next year, I was reminded of how much I’m looking forward to being a sophomore. The housing lottery is just one step along the way.

I would love to chat if you have questions or just want to talk about Brown! Please email me at nicole_fleming@brown.edu.




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