Student Life

Sophomore housing on campus

By Suzanne Shaffer

By the time Winter Break rolls around, your freshman is probably getting pretty tired of that “cozy” one-room double.

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High School Parent | College Parent

There is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s called sophomore housing. At larger universities, the majority of second year students move off campus, but at many schools sophomores stay in the residence halls.

On-campus housing options and the way housing is secured changes after freshman year. Here are possibilities your student can consider, and how it works.

The Room Draw process

“Room Draw” takes place in late winter or early spring and can be an emotional, and even melodramatic, experience. Students enter Room Draw as individuals, in pairs, or in groups, and this can create rifts in social circles. Your student may have multiple friends courting her as a potential roommate, or she might feel left out. She can navigate the process with confidence, though, if she plans ahead, knows the rules and how the system works, and understands that flexibility (regarding both rooms and roommates) is key.

Before submitting her Room Draw application, she should research dorms and room arrangements typically available to sophomores and familiarize herself with the rules for room selection as well as the proxy regulations if she isn’t available during the Draw itself. For Room Draw, each individual or group is assigned a random, computer-generated lottery number to establish priority within the class, with the lowest number having the top pick.

To participate, when it’s their turn, the student (or group) logs in to the housing system using a campus web application that shows which rooms are still open. Even if students enter as a group — of four, for example — they can generally select singles and doubles from the available stock if they prefer.

Quote“My son hoped to live in the German language house but missed the application deadline. Meanwhile, his friends formed a room group without him. He had to scramble to find other people to enter Room Draw with. Luckily it worked out and he was able to choose a single in a dorm where a lot of his friends also ended up.” – Parent of a sophomore

Foreign language dorms

Many colleges offer special-interest housing, such as foreign language dorms. These may require separate applications to determine a student’s language proficiency, along with a signed agreement to participate in the language program required for the dorm. A student who chooses this option will be immersed in the culture and the language. Important note: the application deadline for foreign language residences is usually before the regular Room Draw application deadline.

Living-learning communities

Living-learning communities offer unique opportunities. Research shows that this type of residential and academic experience results in a higher cumulative GPA and increased interaction between faculty and students. There are several types of living-learning communities for your student to consider:

  • Academic major — Academic major learning communities bring together students pursuing a common professional field such as engineering or biological and life sciences.
  • Enhanced learning — Enhanced-learning communities explore a specific area of interest (e.g., service learning or leadership) through academic courses and co-curricular experiences. These communities are open to students of any academic major.
  • Themed housing — Themed housing offers students with common interests the opportunity to live together; residents are encouraged to create a community by engaging in shared activities. Some examples might be green living, substance-free living, and global awareness.

As your student looks ahead to sophomore year, it’s exciting and empowering for her to choose her own living situation. A student’s residential environment can have a substantial impact on academic success. Researching options in advance should help her make an informed choice and result in a positive on-campus living experience.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.

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