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Residential Life
Eugenia Chase Guild Hall
Lower Level
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Fax: (610) 526-7324

Frequently Asked Questions


We do our best to explain Room Draw to students who are new to the process.  We realize, however, that it can seem complicated to someone not familiar with the process or the terminology.  Included in this page are some questions we get asked all the time.  You should read it, in addition to the rest of the Room Draw webpages, to give you a good sense of what Room Draw is all about.  Use the following links to skip through this page to questions that are important for you.  This page is a current work in progress.  Check back for more questions and answers as we have time to type them in!

For the purposes of this page, numbers are discussed in terms of "high" and "low."  A "high" number is a number closer to zero.  A "low" number is a number closer to 400.  For example, the number 1 is "higher" than the number 10.  The number 264 is "higher" than the number 300.  The number 72 is "lower" than the number 50.

Confused about the terminology?  Click here for a glossary of common Room Draw terms.


General Questions

Q. How exactly does it work?

A. The process is described, in detail, on the Residential Life website.  A step-by-step guide can be found here.  We encourage you to read the materials for yourselves and to ask questions during Q&A sessions.  Rumors and misinformation have a way of getting around, so if you need a question answered, make sure it's from a reliable source.

Q.  I've been told I'm ineligible for room draw because my balance has not been paid off.  What happens to me?

A.  As long as you pay your balance by Housing Sign Ups, there won't be a problem for you.  Everyone receives a priority number, which is not affected by outstanding bills.  If you are unable to pay your balance before room selection, you will be assigned a room over the summer, after you have reconciled with Student Financial Services.  If you have concerns about billing, we encourage you to work with Student Financial Services, or to talk to your Dean about assistance.

Q. Why are customs people and people with assigned dorms/rooms still included in regular room draw?

A. Everyone receives a priority number.  There's always the chance that someone's situation might change and they might not be an HA or Customs Person, even if they initially take the job.  If they change their mind, they'll need a priority number, either for the standard draw or for wait list housing over the summer.  However, receiving a priority number does not mean that everyone participates in the full draw.  HAs, Customs People, and others with assigned rooms will be skipped during the actual draw process.

Q. Is there any way to improve participation in the Haverford/Swat housing exchange?

A. You need to market Bryn Mawr's housing options to Haverford and Swarthmore students.  The housing exchange demands an equal number from each campus.  Since more Bryn Mawr students usually want to live at Haverford or Swat, the exchange is typically limited by the number of Haverford or Swat students who wish to live at Bryn Mawr.  You need to convince them that living at Bryn Mawr is awesome!  If you want to get involved on a more official level, you should run for Dorm President, join Residence Council, and work on improving these numbers next year.

Q. Is it true that if you go JYA you do not get a very good room?

A. Not at all! Folks are leaving to go JYA second semester, which means they are leaving empty rooms behind.  If you go JYA first semester you will submit a housing preference form to our office through our website.  We will place returning students in order of their priority number (the number you received in the previous Spring for the room draw process), according to their preferences.  As with the standard draw, it's impossible to say whether what you want will be available, but we do our best, usually with good results.

Q. Is the furniture that you get in your bedroom different in different dorms?

A. The pieces of furniture themselves might differ slightly in form or style, but everyone gets the same function.  There's always an extra-long bed, a dresser (either free-standing or a "captain's" bed, where the drawers are built into the bed frame under the mattress), a desk, a chair, a bookshelf, and a mirror.

Q. If there is a piece of furniture you get that you do not want and would like the space will facilities take it away? (like if I'm in a double, and we only need one desk)

A. You must keep all furniture in your room at all times.  We do not have storage space for unwanted furniture pieces.

Q. Is the lack-of-air-conditioning/crazy-central-heating situation the same in every dorm?

A. More or less, yes it is.  None of our dorms offer air conditioning during the academic year.  The heating situation...well, it is what it is.  Our buildings are old, across the board, and our heating systems function as well as they can for their age.  The real way to find a difference, in particular with heat, is that it is typically colder on lower floors and warmer on higher floors.  For example, the third floor of a dorm is usually warmer than the first floor.


Sign-Ups and Room Draw Preparation

Q. Do I have to submit a Housing Sign-Up form?  Even if I'm Customs/HA/JYA/etc?

A. Yes, all students must submit a Housing Sign-Up form, even if you've got a guaranteed room (like HAs or customs) or will only be here for part of the year (JYA) or plan to move off campus. The Sign-Up form is your housing agreement, so if you plan to live here, you need to sign up.  Even if you don't plan to live here, there's a spot to tell us that on the card.

Q. What does the "Proxy" box on the Hall Group and Multiple Occupancy forms mean?

A. If you are unable to submit your form or if you cannot attend the draws (JYA, for example), you can have a friend "proxy" for you.  Effectively, that person will manage the entire Room Draw process on your behalf.  If you are a proxy, or are looking for a proxy, the most important thing is clear communication.  You should make sure you understand the intent of the person who will be living in the room next year.

Q. How can we find out class quotas for each dorm?

A. Class quotas are posted on this website on the day of each draw.

Q. Do First Year students have to still draw a picture of their room, even if it's always been a First Year room, and probably will be again?

A. There are a number of rooms that are not available for the regular draw.  Specifically, First Year rooms,  HA rooms, and Customs rooms are removed from the draw process.  You can check the floorplans to determine which rooms are available for the draw.  If you live in an HA room, Customs room, or First Year room, you can write that on your form.  There's no need to draw a diagram or open your room for viewing, since it can't be chosen anyway.  However - be sure to check the floorplans, as these rooms can be shifted from year to year.


Priority Numbers

Q.  I understand that there are two room draws, one for the dorm and one for the actual room, does that mean that there are two different numbers given? Or do you only get one number?

A. You receive one priority number for the entire Room Draw process.  During dorm draw, you will be called in order of priority to pick your dorm.  You will take the same priority to that dorm to choose a room at the second draw, the one in which you get to pick your exact room.  For example: the room draw in Pem East will be comprised of the list of students who pulled into Pem East from each class during dorm draw.  The seniors will choose rooms first, on the basis of their respective priority numbers, then the juniors, then the sophomores, until all the available singles in Pem East are filled.

Q. Based on my number, what's the likelihood that I'll get to pick a single?

A. This is another one that can be really tough to call, because it depends on the choices of the folks who get to pick before you.  However, rising sophomores with numbers 200 and lower should prepare for the likelihood that they will have to choose a roommate. You can prepare for this ahead of time by entering multiple-occupancy or hall group draw, or you can go on a wait list to be housed over the summer.  Be aware, however, that you are likely to be housed with a roommate from the wait list through Residential Life.  If you wish to choose your roommate, you should work before the draw to find someone who matches your preferences.

Q. I'm not participating in the regular draw because I'm a(n) HA/JYA/member of a hall group/etc...Why can't I switch numbers with a friend who got a lower number than me?

A. Residence Council has created the rules of the draw to be as fair to everyone as possible.  If folks were allowed to trade numbers or give them away, for whatever reason, it would create inequality.  Potentially, individuals would be able to sell their Room Draw numbers.  Basically, your number is your number.  It's random, but it's fair.

Q. How does my number affect hall group, multiple occupancy, and apartment draws?

A. Priority numbers are not used to pick hall groups (more on hall group selection in another question), but they are used for multiple-occupancy rooms and for apartments..  For a multiple-occupancy room, the student with the highest class year and the highest rank will get first pick, and she will "pull up" another student to share the room with her.  For example, if there are sixteen sets of students who are trying for one of the fourteen available triples, the highest priority number in each set of students will be used to order the draw.  The senior with the highest number will choose first, and pull up two other students, regardless of their class years or priority numbers.  Then the senior with the next highest number, etc.  When all seniors have picked, the junior with the highest number will choose, and so on.  This same process is used for choosing apartments.

Q. What is the process for determining the priority for hall group housing?

A. Each hall group is assigned a score based on the number of rising seniors (3 points each), juniors (2 points each), and sophomores (1 point each) who are included in the group.  For example, a group of four students: one senior, two juniors, and a sophomore, will receive 8 points (3+2+2+1).  Another group of four students: two seniors and two juniors, will receive 10 points (3+3+2+2).  In this case, the group with 10 points will choose before the group with 8 points.  In the case of groups with the same number of points, priority is assigned randomly.  The priority list for Hall Group draw will be published online on the day of Hall Group Draw.



Q. What are the advantages for forming a hall group?

A.  If what you really want is to live close to your friends, then the hall group is the way to go.  It's the only way to guarantee (provided you actually get a hall group at the draw) that you'll all end up in the same dorm.  Hall groups are typically located in spaces that are clustered together, and are great spots for groups of friends who want to live with each other.  Hall groups are also drawn on the basis of class year, regardless of priority number, so it's a great way to try to get singles if you've got a group of friends with crappy numbers.

Q.  As a rising sophomore, what are our best chances for getting a single?

A. If you've got number 1-200 (very approximate - these numbers can shift widely from year to year), you'll probably have a chance to get a single outright.  If you want to make sure, hall groups are a great way to try to get a collection of singles for you and your friends.  Check the multiple-occupancy rooms as well, because there are some sweet doubles that are almost as good, or just as good as a single, and are much less competitive.

Q. If my main objective is to get into the dorm I want and I don't care about room size, who I live with, etc. what advice do you have?

A. If your only priority is to get into the dorm you want, you should definitely try multiple-occupancy and hall groups.  These draws are less competitive than the main draw, and can offer you an opportunity to get into your dorm of choice before everyone else gets a chance at the main dorm draw.

Q. What is the best room on campus?

A. We get this question all the time.  Give yourself a second to think about it...there are about 1,200 resident students at Bryn Mawr, and each one of them is going to have a different idea about the qualities that comprise the perfect room.  For some people, it's location, location, location.  For others, the size of the room is most important.  Perhaps you would like a room that most reminds you of Hogwarts.  Others might think the most important thing is to live with or near friends, regardless of other qualities.  Thus, the best room on campus is the one that most closely matches your priorities.  We can't answer that question for you.

Q. I wish I knew if there is a certain size hall group that tends to not have as many applicants.  How am I more likely to get my first choice?

A. This one also depends from year to year.  Since it takes more people to fill a larger hall group, the largest one (7-person in Pem East) usually is less competitive.  Similarly, triples are usually less competitive than doubles.  However, this is a generalization and any given year could reveal unexpected competition.

Q. What happens if all the rooms I like are taken?

A. The best way to prepare for Room Draw is to have as many options as possible.  Flexibility is key.  Remember - this is a small campus and the rooms, while they may be of different size, shape, and configuration, are all good rooms in which to live.  You'll still be close enough to your friends to visit, even if they live in different dorms.  Perhaps you'll even make new friends in a new dorm.  If you're having a hard time dealing with the stress of the process, we suggest talking with a counselor about ways to cope with the process itself, as well as the outcomes.

Q. What if two people want the same room?

A. The rooms are chosen in order of priority.  Once the room is chosen, it's removed from the list and cannot be chosen again.  In the event that two people want the same room (which happens all the time), it will go to the person with the higher priority number.

Q. What are the chances that a sophomore can get a nice single (with a number <20)?

A. About half of the sophomore class can expect to live with a roommate during their sophomore year.  Of the remaining sophomores, some will pull into hall groups or multiple occupancy rooms.  After that, you've got sophomores with high numbers who will have an opportunity to choose singles.  I have no idea what a "nice" single is, because that's different for every individual.  However, sophomores who draw into singles need to remember that they will be choosing rooms after the seniors and juniors have chosen.  They will probably get rooms that are smaller, or on the higher floors in each dorm.


Multiple-Occupancy and Hall Groups

Q. What if after signing up we don't show up for multiple occupancy room draws? Are we automatically dropped to our class draw by priority number?

A. Yes.  If you do not show up to multiple-occupancy/hall group/apartment draw, you are placed back in the regular Room Draw with no change in your priority number.

Q. If I apply for Hall Group or a Multiple-Occupancy room and get the one we want, but then one of people transfers away from Bryn Mawr, what happens?

A. You should not apply for a Hall Group or Multiple-Occupancy room if you believe that any of the individuals might be away from the College for all or part of the upcoming year.  If, for whatever reason, a member of the group has to leave, the room will be filled with someone from the housing wait list.

Q. Can you sign up for multiple hall groups or multiple-occupancy rooms at once?

A. Yes...but with some restrictions.  You may sign up for multiple hall groups and multiple-occupancy rooms.  You may NOT sign up for multiples of the same thing.  For example, you may apply for a double with another student, as well as a triple with two other students.  You may NOT apply for two doubles, each with a different student.  You may apply for a double with another student, as well as a four-person hall group with three other students.  You may NOT apply for two four-person hall groups with different groups of students.

Q. How does the Multiple-Occupancy and Hall Group draw work?

A. At the draw, Hall Groups will be chosen first on the basis of Hall Group priority (see the priority section for a detailed explanation about how Hall Group priority is determined).  When your group is called, you may either choose an available Hall Group, or pass.  If you do not choose a group, you'll be placed back into the regular Room Draw process with your existing priority number or drop to Multiple-Occupancy draw if you have submitted a form.  After Hall Groups are chosen, Multiple-Occupancy rooms will be drawn in the order of highest priority.  As with Hall Groups, if it is your turn to choose and you don't like any of the available choices, you can drop back into the regular draw with your existing priority number.  Any remaining multiple-occupancy or grouped rooms not chosen in this draw will be rolled into the regular draw.

Q. How do you draw into a dorm with a hall group or multiple-occupancy room?

A. When you draw a hall group or a multiple-occupancy room, you choose the specific group or room itself.  This means that you choose the dorm and the room(s) at the same time.  You must still attend the room selection meeting held in the dorm you have chosen, as there are other things in addition to room selection that happen at that meeting.

Q. If someone drops out of our hall group and we get it, can another person come in?

A. If someone drops out of your hall group before the draw, your group will be removed from the draw.  If you do not inform Residential Life of the fact that one of your group members no longer wishes to participate in hall group draw, and you choose a hall group anyway, you will have violated the rules of the draw and are subject to action through the honor board or a dean's panel.  Additionally, you will have effectively chosen a room for another student, as everyone in the group will have to remain there and will be removed from the regular draw.  So really, if you know someone in your group no longer wishes to be in your group, do everyone a favor and don't pick a hall group at the draw.  If you pick a hall group and someone pulls out after the draw, you will have to work with the Director of Residential Life to consider alternatives for filling the empty space.  We cannot guarantee that you will be able to choose the individual that fills the space, although we always try to work with students to accommodate their preferences when possible.

Q. If you apply for a multiply occupancy room and get it, is there any way to step out or are you bound to that triple/double etc?

A. Once you've chosen a multiple-occupancy room or hall group, you are bound to stick with that decision.  You can try to trade rooms during the Room Trade process, but all potential room trades are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by Residence Council and are subject to their approval.


Choosing a Dorm

Q. Is there a limit to how many students of a certain class year can draw into a dorm?

A. Yes, each of our dorms has a quota for each class year.  These quotas ensure an equal class distribution within each dorm.  When the quota is reached during dorm draw, the dorm "closes" for the remaining members of that class.  For example, there might be 20 spots for juniors in Denbigh.  This means that the first 20 juniors to choose Denbigh are in, and everyone else has to pick a different dorm.  There will still be room for sophomores in Denbigh, however, because of the quotas.  Quotas are established by the Residential Life office prior to Room Draw and are adjusted after multiple-occupancy and hall group draw, and again after junior/senior draw.  These adjustments reduce the quotas on the basis of how many people from each class drew into a particular dorm during multiple occupancy and hall group draw.  After the junior/senior dorm draw, quotas are adjusted to allow any remaining junior/senior spaces to filter down to the sophomore draw.

Q. What dorms fill up quickly?

A.  As much as you'll hate to hear it, there's really no way to answer this question.  Due to different personal preferences, dorms "close" in a different order every year, so it's impossible to predict which one will go first in a future draw.  The same dorm that closes first one year could close last the next year (it's happened before!).

Q. Should I choose more than one dorm in which I want to live?

A.  It's in your best interest to rank every dorm in terms of your preference.  That way, when it comes time to choose a dorm, you'll have given some thought to the options in advance.  Only the first 15 people in each class are guaranteed a spot in the exact dorm they, for almost everyone, having more options is a good thing.

Q. What happens if you run out of rooms before everyone gets to pick one?

A. If all the dorms "close" before everyone chooses a room, the remainder of students will be placed on a housing wait list and will be housed over the summer.  It is likely that students on the wait list will be assigned roommates. Students on the housing wait list will be notified of their housing assignments over the summer, around the middle of August.

Q. Do I have to be present in GReat Hall during the drawing in order to get a room?

A. You must attend Room Draw, or send a proxy on your behalf, in order to draw into a dorm.  If you do not choose a dorm, you will not be able to choose a room and will be placed on the housing wait list.

Q. How does the draw actually work?

A. There are two nights to draw into a dorm: one for rising seniors and juniors, another for rising sophomores.  Show up in Great Hall and take a seat.  When the draw begins, Residence Council members will read the rules of the draw, and will give examples for how it works.  There will be boards at the front of the room that list the available quotas and room types (there could be doubles and triples that didn't get chosen in the multiple-occupancy draw, in addition to the singles) for each dorm.  Seniors draw first, starting with the senior who has #1.  She will choose the dorm in which she wants to live.  One spot will be deducted from the available senior quota for that dorm, as well as one spot from the available singles.  Then, the senior with #2 will choose, and the numbers will be adjusted accordingly.  This will proceed until all seniors have chosen a dorm.  The juniors will go through the same process.  The next day, the sophomores will go through the same process as well.

Q. If room draw starts at 9pm, should I be there at 8:50 or earlier?

A. Room Draw starts on time.  There's no reason to get there early.  You won't get a better room if you get a better seat in Great Hall. Typically each draw will last about two hours.  It's always faster if you come prepared.


Choosing a Room

Q. After we get to pick our dorms according to our numbers in Thomas Great Hall, when do we pick our rooms? Is that a separate process in the dorms and does the room-picking process use class seniority and priority numbers?

A. That's exactly how it works.  Room Draw is in Great Hall, and that is when everyone chooses a dorm.  Room Selection happens a week later in each dorm.  So, if you pull into Rock, you'll go to Rock for Room Selection.  Rooms in each dorm are chosen by priority numbers, starting with the rising senior who has the highest priority number and ending with the rising sophomore who has the lowest priority number.

Q. At Room Selection in each dorm, do seniors, juniors and sophomores all go to a different assembly or are we all crowded into one room all at the same time?

A. Room Selection meetings are held in the living rooms of each dorm.  Everyone goes at the same time.

Q. Which rooms are set aside for Sophomores, Juniors or Seniors?

A. We don't have rooms that are for seniors, sophomores, or juniors.  The only assigned rooms are for First Years, Hall Advisors, Customs, and individuals who require housing accommodations.  Everything else is just a room.  People choose rooms in the order in which they drew into the dorm, seniors first, so larger rooms typically go quickly and are sometimes labeled as "senior" rooms.  However, they have no such official label.  Detailed floorplans showing all rooms and their type can be found here.

Q. Do I get to choose a list of rooms I like?

A. Sort draw into a dorm first, so by the time you get to room selection, you know which dorm you've chosen.  You go to your chosen dorm, and you pick a room on the basis of the order in which you drew into the dorm.  If you're the first senior who drew in, you'll get first pick.  If you're the last sophomore, you'll get last pick.  You'll have the opportunity to choose from all rooms still available when it's your turn.

Q. What happens if there are no single rooms left after I draw into a dorm?

A. You will know at the dorm draw how many singles are left before you draw into the dorm.  If there are no available singles, you will have to choose a roommate and pull into a multiple-occupancy room, you must choose another dorm where there are available singles, or you will be placed on a housing waitlist to be housed by the Residential Life office over the summer.

Q. If I don't get into the room of my choice in one dorm, can I go to another dorm?

A. No. Once you draw into a dorm, you must remain there.  If you are unhappy with your room choice after selection is complete, you can try to exchange it during the Room Trade period.

Q. How will we know what rooms we have to choose from?

A. Lists of available rooms are posted here as they become available, so you can check it before Room Selection.  In each dorm, there will be a list of available rooms posted at the room selection meeting.  As rooms are chosen, they are crossed off the list.  When it is your turn, you may choose from any of the rooms left on the list.

Q. How long does Room Selection typically last?

A. Room Selection is quite dorm-dependent, since some dorms are much larger than others.  Expect your room selection meeting to last about an hour and a half.

Q. Wouldn't this process be long, crowded and onerous?

A. Not really.  As long as you come prepared with the list of available rooms ordered in terms of your preference, the room selection process moves fairly quickly.

Post Room Selection and Room Trade

Q. If I do not like the room/dorm in which I have been drawn can I still move somewhere else (even if room trade and wait list fails)? Imagine I totally dislike what I got.

A. If you select a room in the draw process, that's your room.  You can try to trade it during the Room Trade period, and in accordance with the trade guidelines.  However, if you don't manage a trade, you've got to keep the room you picked.  Most people don't get their idea of a perfect room.  If you are having trouble coping with the stress of the process, or of the outcome, we recommend talking with a counselor.

Q. If one of my roommates transfers over the summer, is it my responsibility to find a replacement?

A. You will be given the opportunity to find a suitable replacement, under restrictions as dictated by the Residential Life office.  Any replacement must give up a single room in order to take the open space in your multiple-occupancy room.

Q. How does Room Trade work?

A. A detailed explanation of the process can be found here.  Basically, you can trade with someone of the same room type (single, double, etc.) and the same class year (to keep quotas the same.

Q. If I received an e-mail about unpaid balance of student account affecting my room draw, but then get placed in a hall group, whats next?

A. You must reconcile any outstanding balance with Student Financial Services, or we will remove you from housing over the summer and fill your spot with someone from the waitlist.