I have never had a stress-free room selection process. Something has ALWAYS gone wrong for me and I have never gotten to live in the dorm rooms on campus I truly wanted to live in. And before you say where you live on campus next year doesn’t matter, it TOTALLY matters. At my school, the quad or even the building you live in can basically dictate how you should schedule your day. My quad is one of the furthest ones from the main plaza where classes are, and because my campus is so big, it usually takes me around 15 to 20 minutes to walk to class in the morning. In other words, I have to move my ass (and no sleeping in!) so I’m not late. I also have to make sure I don’t forget anything important in my room because then I have to choose between a) miserably going through the day without it or b) risk being late for my next class to burst my calves wide open trying to walk back to my room for it. And, unfortunately for me, I have forgotten things in my room many times. But enough about my dorm room that’s so far from civilization (you’ll hear more about it in my upcoming post on dealing with a dorm room far from your classes). Let’s get back to room selection…
A lot of colleges make room selection a “lottery process” which means everyone is given a specific date and time or number for selecting a room and all hell breaks loose. Room selection is known as that time of year when you know who your true friends are — I have seen it actually destroy friendships! I rarely encounter anyone who doesn’t have at least one crazy room selection story to tell. So if this is your first year participating in room selection, or you’ve gone through it before but still want tips on survival from the ~queen~ of shitty room selection experiences, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Think about what’s most important to you.
For some people, living in a building where every suite has a kitchen for cooking is a priority. For others, being able to have a single room is most important. Use your preferences to narrow down your choices. It will make room selection much easier. It also doesn’t hurt to try talking to a few people who already live in the buildings you’re considering so you can get their input on whether or not it’s worth it.
2. Make sure you have no holds on your school account.
You CANNOT participate in room selection if you owe your school any payments for anything. This could be from parking tickets, study abroad fees, any application fees that are missing, etc. Check your account to make sure there are no holds, and if you see a hold that you are unfamiliar with, go to your school’s admin office ASAP to figure it out and have it removed.
3. Form a group EARLY.
Sometimes you need a “full” group (usually at least four people) to fill a suite, so make sure you get everyone gathered ahead of time. Make sure your group consists of people you get along with because you’ll be sharing the space with them for a whole year. This would also be a good time to tell your soon-to-be roommate and suite mates what they can expect from you, and if anyone has any rules or conditions that they need to set, this would be a good time to tell everyone. This way, if someone doesn’t agree they still have the time to find another group if the condition will really be that big of a deal to them.
4. Don’t double dip.
Don’t promise to be part of one group and then also promise to be part of another group. I know a lot of people don’t like saying no to others, but double dipping will cause confusion and screw you over, and some people will be really mad at you for flaking later on. It’s better to be honest and say you already have a group you’re considering. When you’re offered a spot in a group you don’t want to be in, saying things like, “that would be cool,” or, “hmmm, we’ll see,” or, “yeah, maybe,” is a HUGE no because you aren’t explicitly saying that you’re interested or not interested. No one likes mixed messages.
5. Post on social media to find roommates.
If you don’t have a group to go through room selection with, post on any class pages on social media to find one. People do it all the time, especially if your school is big on class pages. Invite any interested people to send you a private message, or leave your email. Just be aware that there’s no time to drag your feet with this. These roommate arrangements tend to move quickly because people want the security of knowing they have at least one other person to help them pick a room. Once you guys start messaging, ask if you can meet up sometime soon to get to know each other a bit more and talk about any likes or dislikes. Exchange all information necessary for the process (usually their full name and student ID number) and decide who has the best lottery time for getting you into the room you want.
6. Be a little selfish.
Not everyone ends up getting their #1 choice but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. Don’t let anyone convince you to abandon what you really want for something else (unless all the rooms have already been filled). It’s okay to be a little selfish and say you really don’t want to live where your friends want to live, and as long as you don’t expect them to get up and follow you to the dorm of your choice, there should be no hard feelings.
7. Have a backup plan and a backup plan for your backup plan.
Things don’t always go as planned — I should know! If your first choice fills up before you can pick it, immediately move to your second choice without hesitation. If you’re picking with a group, your backups should be discussed in advanced so you don’t have to panic to get in contact with one another to re-assess and come up with a plan B. Also have a backup plan for your backup plan because those can fail too. During last year’s room selection, not only did my group’s backup plan #1 fall through, but our backup plans #2 and #3 were failures as well!
8. Don’t sleep in on your selection day.
One person in the group is usually the one who selects the room for everyone else. If this is you and your selection time is in the morning hours, PLEASE don’t sleep in! If you miss your time, you kind of just screwed you and everyone else out of the room you wanted. One year, when I was picking my classes for next semester, I woke up EXACTLY ONE MINUTE AFTER my scheduled time. I never jumped out of bed so fast in my life!
9. Make sure you have a good Wifi connection.
At my school, everything is done online, so a strong Wifi connection is a must! If you know the Wifi is always spotty in your room, you might have to leave to go somewhere else when picking a spot. Go outside in your pajamas for five minutes if you have to; you don’t want to risk getting screwed by a spotty connection.
At this point you successfully got into the room you wanted, got into your backup plan, or got really unlucky and have to live in the part of campus you like the least. If the latter happens, inquire about room swaps early on, or try to power through it for at least a semester. The good news is you made it through room selection (hopefully) as unscathed as possible and you have housing for next semester!
What are your room selection survival tips?