How it Works

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Room Selection for AY 2021/22

The Room Selection process is proceeding as if we will be reunited on campus for the fall semester. However, on-campus housing decisions are subject to state, city, and University guidance and may change as public health recommendations evolve.


Room Selection in 6 Easy Steps

Room Selection is an annual process during which current undergraduate students select on-campus housing for the following academic year. Students choose from a variety of housing arrangements that include living with a group in doubles or suites, or living in a single in a corridor-style room.

Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the options and selection steps.

photo of students checking in with Housing.
What About First-Year Students?

First-Year students do not participate in Room Selection, but are instead assigned to one of our First-Year residence halls.

Step 1
Where Do You Want to Live

Explore our buildings. Think about what living situation makes most sense for you and who you might want to live with next year. Learn more about Special Living Communities. Attend info sessions and building tours. 

Step 2
Understand Eligibility and Special Populations

Understand eligibility for Room Selection and special considerations for Rising Sophomores, study abroad, leave, students registered with Disability Services, or living with Barnard students. 

Step 3
Mark Your Calendar

Note important dates and deadlines. Missing a critical step in the process could impact your ability to secure on-campus housing.

Step 4
Pick a Group Leader

If you plan to form a group, decide on a Group Leader. Have an open and detailed conversation as a group about where you do and don’t want to live. During selection, the Group Leader will have the responsibility to make a choice on behalf of the whole group. 

Step 5
Register for Room Selection

Register for Room Selection. All Columbia students must register, even if they intend to live elsewhere next year. Registration lets us know your intended plan and is important in maintaining guaranteed housing status. 

Step 6
Get a Room!

Time to select your room! After registration closes, individual students or groups will receive a lottery number and appointment time. During your appointment time, students can pick from available options. After you select your room, be sure to sign the Occupancy Agreement. Your assignment is not finalized until you and all members of your group have submitted the Agreement through the Housing Portal


Room Selection: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the questions we have most frequently received from students regarding Room Selection this year. Please note that the FAQs are divided into two tabs: one with questions relevant to all students, and the other with information to help our rising sophomores as they participate in Room Selection for the first time.

If you have additional questions, please email us at

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For All Students

The Room Selection process is proceeding as if we will be reunited on campus for the fall. However, on-campus housing decisions are subject to state, city, and University guidance and may change as public health recommendations evolve. If the University has to adjust on-campus housing plans, we will assess the timeline and fee structure associated with cancellation. Please continue to monitor your email for important University communications.

No. The Room Selection process is proceeding as if we will be reunited on campus for the fall semester. However, on-campus housing decisions are subject to state, city, and University guidance and may change as public health recommendations evolve.

Visit the Explore Residences page of the Columbia Housing website. It shows a map of where each residence hall is located, and provides detailed information about each, including available amenities, rooming style, which students generally live in the building, a photo gallery and more.

You can register for Room Selection as part of a group or as an individual.  Lottery numbers are determined by class standing, so who you select to form a group with may impact your Room Selection appointment time. If you form a group with members of your same class, you will choose at around the same time as the rest of your class. If you form a group with students in a class above you, you will select before your class, whereas you will select after your class if you form a group with students in a lower class level. Our best recommendation is to select with the people that you want to live with rather than focusing too much on point values and lottery numbers.

Yes—if you leave the group via the Housing Portal during the dates when Room Selection registration is open: February 15 – 25. However, once registration is closed we do not allow any changes.

Reminder: If you are the designated group leader (the person who will do the actual selection for your group) you should designate another group member as your proxy in the Housing portal in case you are not available to do the selection at your appointment time.

Yes. Per the policy enacted last year, students who have been granted a disability housing accommodation will be permitted to select two students to occupy a double next door to their room.

Reach out to the Disability Services team who can answer your questions and provide assistance.

No. Remember that groups can only select into spaces that fit their group exactly. Because of this, there will not be empty rooms available in a suite to choose if you are selecting as an individual.

Yes. Our Open Housing policy allows mixed-gender living as long as it is OK with all students sharing the room/suite. Groups should ensure that all members will be comfortable sharing living space and, when applicable, a bathroom before proceeding to register as a mixed group. Please note that Columbia Housing strongly discourages students who are in a romantic relationship from rooming together.

Yes. A student who is selecting as an individual and has a high lottery number may find that there are no singles remaining at their appointment time. In that case, they will need to select a bed in a double room where they may not know their roommate.

LLC has been cancelled for the upcoming academic year. However, Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) and Special Interest Communities (SIC) are still planned. Information about housing for both is available on the Residence Life website:

Yes. As in the past, we will allow a certain number of Barnard and Columbia seniors to select into residence halls on the other campus for this coming fall. Keep in mind that once we reach the maximum number for the exchange, anyone that has not chosen a room will have to return to their own school to choose a room.  Columbia students will receive a lottery number and appointment time when they return.


We do not yet have official word as to whether Summer Housing will be possible this year. We will update our website if it becomes available.

Especially for Rising Sophomores

When Housing makes assignments for incoming first-year students, the most important factor that Housing considers is the student’s building preference. For that reason, we encourage rising sophomores to explore the buildings typically available to them during Room Selection – McBain, Schapiro, Wien, Broadway, Carlton Arms, 600 West 113 Street, Furnald and Harmony – because each building offers different amenities and layouts.

Regardless if you register as an individual, pair, or group, keep in mind the best selections are often based on building-type and location preference.  Your Room Selection strategy should be based on the building that’s right for you. For instance, if having a spacious bedroom appeals to you, you might be more inclined to select Carlton Arms over Wien. If you play guitar and want to have a place to practice, you might pick Schapiro Hall because it offers private music rooms. If the convenience of having your own sink in your bedroom is appealing, Wien would be a good fit. Selecting a room in a building that suits your needs and preferences, even if you’re picking one-half of a double without knowing your future roommate, is very similar to how first-year students are paired by Housing.

Remember, Residential Life will help to facilitate community development in every residence hall. To learn more, see the question “What activities will Residential Life provide to help foster community between residents who are living on campus for the first time?”

There are many resources available to students as they go through the Room Selection process. Please explore the Room Selection webpages and the Room Selection videos for helpful information, which includes videos on How Room Selection Works and Room Selection for Sophomores.

As the majority of rooms available to rising sophomores during Room Selection are doubles, we encourage rising sophomores to self-select a classmate or form a group of classmates for the Room Selection process. Please see the “What if I don’t know anyone before Room Selection?” question for more information about finding a roommate or group.  

Research buildings and locations that you think are best suited for you. Learn more about each building and its amenities with the residence hall directory or take a virtual tour through residence halls popular among rising sophomores. Then, use opportunities offered through Residential Life and RHLO to connect with other students who may want to live in those spaces. We recommend watching the recording of the virtual Room Selection Info Session which included a presentation on Room Selection as well as an information on how students can engage with their classmates.

Typical sophomore buildings are McBain, Schapiro (doubles), Wien (doubles), Broadway (doubles), Carlton Arms, 600 West 113 Street (doubles) or a limited number of rooms in Furnald and Harmony (smaller size singles). Although they are not adjacent to South Field like the first-year residence halls, they are part of the University’s greater campus which extends from West 110th Street to West 125th Street. These buildings are owned and operated by Columbia Housing and are serviced by Public Safety and Columbia Transportation's shuttle system.

Similar to first-year residence halls, most sophomore residence halls are corridor-style buildings. This communal configuration helps to foster community among residents and will provide residents with many opportunities to interact with their floormates and to make friends within the Columbia community.

Based on fall operating plans and due to space allocations required to meet Federal, State and City health guidance and provide a safe campus living environment, Hartley and Wallach will not be available as part of Room Selection 2021. 

However, if you have an interest in living in Hartley or Wallach, complete the Summer Transfer/Fall Assignment form in the Housing Portal when it becomes available later in the spring after Room Selection. If space does becomes available in Hartley or Wallach, Housing will contact you with the opportunity to transfer.


If you register as an individual or with a group of rising sophomores, it is very likely that you will live in a building composed primarily of your classmates.

Appointments for Room Selection are determined by lottery numbers. The lottery system is based on class seniority so that seniors and juniors are given a higher number and thus an earlier appointment time. This means that certain buildings popular among seniors and juniors are often not available by the time Room Selection appointments for sophomores begin. As such, options for sophomores are more limited and those remaining buildings tend to have a large sophomore population. However, if you form a group with seniors or juniors, your group will have a more competitive lottery number and you may be pulled into a building with a different class demographic.

We encourage you to explore the residence hall directory to learn more about each building’s features and amenities. In addition, you can take a virtual tour through the residence halls that are popular among rising sophomores.

We encourage students to take every opportunity to connect with their classmates and to form a pair. If you don’t pair with a classmate, you may register as an individual. In this event, you have the following options:

  1. Select a single, if available. The inventory of single rooms is traditionally limited for sophomores as they typically choose after juniors and seniors.
  2. Select half of a double room. Any student with an appointment time later than yours may select the remaining half of the double.

You may also choose to live off-campus in a non-Columbia-owned or operated building. Please register your intent to live off-campus with Housing by completing the Room Selection registration and indicating that you will not be participating in online Room Selection. If you move off-campus, you will lose your Guaranteed Housing Status and will not be eligible to participate in Room Selection for the remainder of your undergraduate career at Columbia.

Yes, it is possible for you to lose your Guaranteed Housing Status during the Room Selection process for the following reasons:

  1. Failure to register for Room Selection before February 25.
  2. Indicating that you plan to move off-campus during the registration process. 
  3. Failure to complete the Sophomore Waitlist form if you were unable to select a room during Room Selection due to lack of inventory.

If you lose your Guaranteed Housing Status, you will not be eligible to participate in Room Selection for the remainder of your undergraduate career at Columbia.

Unfortunately, Columbia Housing does not have enough room inventory to fulfill room change requests. However, students are permitted to coordinate room swaps with other students and then submit that request to Housing for transfer.

Each residential floor has a Resident Adviser (RA), who is an upperclass student that works to create community and support residents. RAs plan a variety of events to engage residents, from off-campus outings, to game nights, and beyond. Residents will begin to get to know their neighbors from the very start during their RA’s first floor meeting.

Each residence hall also offers various building-wide programs where residents can meet fellow students from a variety of floors.

The Residence Hall Leadership Organization (RHLO) sponsors campus-wide events for all residents. In addition, your building’s hall council will plan events and sponsor advocacy initiatives throughout the year. Every resident has the opportunity to join hall council; look out for recruitment information in the early weeks following move-in!

Room Selection Videos

Check out our collection of videos designed to help you learn more about our residence halls and the Room Selection process so that you can successfully choose a room for the Fall Term as part of a group or as an individual. Many of the videos feature your fellow students providing their personal tips and recommendations, including our featured video, "How Room Selection Works" which was created in collaboration with the Residence Hall Leadership Organization (RHLO).