So what’s the deal with the housing lottery?

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21


It’s that time of the year when rising sophomores, juniors and seniors at Mount Holyoke participate in the housing lottery. The process can be stressful, and students often worry about who they are going to end up sharing a room with and whether they will get into their desired residence halls or living learning communities (LLCs). 

Students can choose their own roommate or let the system select one for them based on their profile. They then are able to opt in to a room at their designated selection times, which are released a day before the lottery. The selection times are prioritized for seniors, who get the earliest opportunities, followed by juniors and then sophomores. 

“One of the most frequently asked questions by students is what their chances of getting in a particular room are,” said Nashalie Vazquez, associate director of Residential Life. “And the answer is that your class year is the greatest predictor of your chances of getting the room you want. Also, opting into a lottery, knowing when the selection time is and selecting a room at the time of [your] registration are the three steps of participating in the housing lottery that increase your chances of getting the room you want, ” she said.

The current system for the housing lottery was instituted in spring 2014, and has not undergone any changes since. Before the process became completely digital, students physically went to a designated area and chose their dorm. According to a 2004 article from Mount Holyoke News, students chose their residence halls in Chapin, then gathered in that hall to pick their room. The online system activated in March 2004 reduced paperwork for students, but did not make the system completely internet-based. Students were able to access the first part of the lottery process, creating and joining moving groups. 

Today, Mount Holyoke students are able to select roommates, halls, rooms and LLCs from several online options. However, events such as info sessions and meet and greets for the LLCs where students meet hallmates and potential roommates are still held in-person. With a greater number of options available, students try to obtain their ideal room, which for many depends on factors such as the proximity of the dorms to the academic buildings, number of singles available, living learning communities and recently, the dorms’ proximity to the new community dining center. 

Madison Richards ’18 has had success with the housing lottery. “I have been super lucky every year, honestly,” said Richards. “This year, I moved into a single and I actually managed to get my second choice room.” 

However, not all students get their desired dorms. Addressing this, Vazquez said that while housing is certainly an important part of a student’s campus experience, students shouldn’t stress too much about it. “I’d remind students that you’re just selecting your housing for the next academic year,” she said. “You’ll be living in this residence hall for less than a year and then have the opportunity to select different housing, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to select the ‘perfect’ room.”