Skip to main content

Housing Selection at Carleton

Sherry explains how the room draw process works at Carleton

Sherry explains how the room draw process works at Carleton

Before my first room draw as a freshman, I anxiously asked many upperclassmen how this complicated process actually works at Carleton, but no one was able to give me a clear explanation. In this blog post, I’ll try my best to balance between clarity and complexity (as my English professor says!) to give you a basic idea of how the room selection process works.

move-in (migration)

Winter term – Recieve your lottery number

The room draw for the next academic year starts as early as the winter term. Students will receive an email from Reslife notifying their lottery number, which is a random four-digit number generated by the algorithm. I know a junior who got a 400+ number for 3 years, but I also know a friend of my friend who got number 1. It’s just a matter of chance.

My number last year was 3163. The “3” at the beginning indicates that I’m a rising sophomore (“1” corresponds to rising seniors, and “2” corresponds to rising juniors), and “163” means that I got the 163rd priority in my class year, which consists of around 550 students. As you can tell, that wasn’t too bad. However, I was still a bit worried, as I had no clue where I would end up. But, the official room draw process doesn’t start until spring term.

Spring term – Room draw!

When the room draw approaches, you will be able to log into Residence to view all the available rooms. On that website, you can see the information on all dorms across campus, including their size, type (single/double/triple/suite), and special properties (substance-free/quiet floor/single gender). You can also identify your favorites and track their availability during the draw. Your specific draw time will also be shown on that website. The two students holding the adjacent numbers will be separated by three to five minutes to ensure precedence.

the Residence website


Last year, the draw started in May, and each class year took one week to finalize their selection. There are some general patterns concerning the room draw. The townhouses are usually taken by seniors with top lottery numbers. The suites in James, Severance, and Davis and all the singles follow right after. The official room draw history is available online. Though we do not have as many choices as upperclassmen, it’s still possible to get a dorm at Nourse, Watson, Myers, or some other interest houses.

My experience

Fortunately, the room draw this year was not that competitive. After the sophomores were all done with registration, there were still several rooms available in Watson, Myers, Cassat, Evans, and Burton. My friend and I came up with several plans and were checking the room availability every night.

When our turn came, my friend and I met in the lounge and anxiously monitored the screen. We were hoping to live in Myers for a long time: it is close to LDC and the Rec and has comfortable lounges and modern facilities. But there was only one room in Myers left.

When the countdown timer turned to 00:00:00, we immediately clicked on the button. Something like “Congrats! You successfully selected Myers as your fall term housing!” popped up on the screen. We couldn’t believe that we got the one last double at Myers. How fortunate we were!


Myers Hall from the front


and from the back


done with room draw!

Some advice

For people who have never experienced room draw before:

  • Plan early and do a lot of research. Things you should consider include, but are not limited to, the configuration of the room, the location on campus, and the views!
  • Prepare multiple plans. The housing market is highly volatile and unstable, so it’s good to have some backup plan when the situation is not ideal.
  • If you get an unlucky number, try to find a sophomore or a junior friend and ask them to draw you into a room using their priority number.

Enjoy dorm life!



Sherry is a sophomore from Hangzhou, China, and holds a real passion for travel and food. She is thinking about majoring in Mathematics, but would also like to explore more in EconomicsEnglish, and French. Things she likes to do in her free time include hanging out with friends, taking photos, writing random stuff, and finding the funny in everyday life. She also got started with alpine skiing and is always ready for the trip to Welch Village every Friday! Meet the other bloggers!