Alan's Carnegie Mellon Page

All about Room Draw

If you're new to CMU, you may have a lot of questions about Room Draw and how exactly it works. You've probably heard tons of conflicting info (I know I did). As someone who's been through the unpleasantness, I'll do my best to help you understand it.

Getting your number

In February, an option will appear on the housing website ( for you to authorize the $250 housing fee for the next year. Upon submitting the form, you will recieve a random number, drawn from the appropriate pool (Junior+, Sophomores, Freshmen). The number range depends on the year:
Juniors: 1-600+
Sophomores: 1-800+
Freshmen: 1-1400+
At this time, you will also have the option to cancel your deposit and give up your room draw number.

Your options

As a freshman, you have options depending on where you were placed Freshman year and other circumstances.
Retain room: If you are not in Freshman-only housing (Hammerschlag, Morewood E Tower, New House, freshman floors in other dorms), you may choose to retain your room. For a small fee (plus the $250 deposit), you can keep the same room for the next year. However, you will still need to move out during the summer.
Retain dorm: This option is ONLY available for people living in freshman-only areas in non-freshman-only dorms. For example, if you live in Mudge C-Basement (a freshman-only floor), you have the option to retain Mudge. If you choose this, you get first pick (before juniors, even) at the same type of room in Mudge (if you were in a Prime Double, you can only choose a Prime Double).
Group housing: If you want to live in the Oakland apartments with friends, gather together a group of 6 or more and apply for group housing. You can choose a block of rooms, guaranteeing you'll live close by each other. You'll get to pick before juniors and displaced students.
Displaced students: If, for any reason, you weren't allowed to retain your room, you'll have the option of displaced housing. This works like retaining your dorm.
General room draw: This is where most people end up.
Waitlist: After you do general room draw, you may place yourself on the waitlist for a better room (say you want a 1 bedroom apartment, but are forced to take an efficiency). These are resolved after freshmen are assigned housing (during the summer).

General Room Draw

If you don't fit into any of the other categories above, welcome to the general room draw. This process is quite painful, especially for Freshmen. Basically, you'll choose rooms based on your year and based on your number. Juniors go first, sophomores second, and freshman last (typically it goes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday/Thursday).
Before your assigned day, you can check the remaining rooms on the housing website, and see what options are available for you. You can search by room type, building, and gender. You must have a list of perferred rooms prepared on your assigned day to be allowed to proceed with room draw.
On your assigned day, head off to the room draw room at your assigned time. Bring photo ID, a printout of your number, and your signed housing agreement form.
In the general draw, you get to pick from whichever rooms are left over from the previous class/numbers. In general, freshmen have no chance at a single. Sophomores also have a very low chance at Resnik/West Wing. A freshman number above 500 pretty much guarentees you on-campus housing, although it may not be GOOD on-campus housing. A freshman number below 100 is generally considered "good," and gives you a chance at the ever-so-popular Morewood Gardens and Mudge house. Note that, for most locations, male rooms tend to run out faster than female rooms.

Going in alone vs going in with a friend vs pull-ins

Pull-ins - If you are retaining your room, you can choose one or more friends to pull into your room. All retaining roommate(s) must agree to the pull-in. Neither you nor your pulled-in friends will go thorugh room draw. Students in suites have pull-in rights to the entire suite (as if it were all one big room with 5 people).
Going in with a friend - If you have one or more friends you're planning on rooming with, all of you go to room draw together, using the best number out of the group. That person can "pull" in everyone else into a room. With this option, you are allowed to choose a vacant room and fill it. However, higher numbers severely limit your options, especially if you're planning on rooming with more than one other person.
Going in alone - This opens up many options for you since you can pick any room that has a vacancy and fill it, meaning you tend to have more options than people who are insistant on rooming with someone. You may not, however, pick an empty room if you are going by yourself. Unfortunately, this means you'll be paired with a random roommate who you may or may not be compatible with. For people with higher numbers, this is probably the best option (unless you don't mind being stuck off campus).

So what room should I get?

It all depends on what you want.
Dorm types
Prime - Freshmen looking for prime type rooms typically prefer Morewood and Mudge house, although both are difficult for males with numbers over 250, or females with numbers over 300, to get. Other good locations include Henderson House, Boss House, McGill House, and Welch House. Upperclassmen have no problem getting Morewood or Mudge, but Resnik and West Wing are near impossible.
Standard - Freshmen usually have no trouble getting standard type rooms, even if your number is bad. Most dorms have a few standard rooms sprinkled throughout. Besides them, your options are pretty much either Scobell or Donner, both of which are generally avoided like the plague. Of course, there are people that like the two, so it all comes down to what location you like the best.
Apartments - Freshmen with bad numbers are usually "stuck" with apartments, surprisingly, the reasoning being that they are far off campus and no one wants to walk. The best apartments, generally believed to be Fairfax, Margaret Morrison, and Doherty Apartments, are usually filled by the upperclassmen. Other good options include Webster and, um... Shady Oak's good rooms (if you can get them).
House/Specialty - The only way to get into houses or specialty housing is to get pulled in, or to be a junior with a very high number.

On-campus housing subclasses
Double - The most common type of room. Freshmen should have no trouble securing a double of the desired type.
Triple - There are quite a few in Morewood, and they tend to be avoided by upperclassmen. Freshmen, however, love triples. Expect these to fill up quickly (in freshmen numbers below 100).
Quad - Surprisingly demanded. Very few of these open up, even during the junior draw. You are usually pulled into a quad.
Single - The most popular type of room among upperclassmen. Prime singles are pretty much impossible unless you're a junior. If you'll settle for a standard single, you have a chance as a sophomore (and a very, very slim chance as a freshman).

Apartment subclasses
Efficiency - These are the last to go out of apartments. Always house 2 people. This is basically a prime double (albeit much bigger) with a kitchen and personal bathroom. Price is very reasonable, but most people who are living off campus prefer one-bedroom apartments.
One-bedroom - These usually house 2 or 3 people (depending on the building). Some people turn the living room into a second bedroom. Relatively popular.
Two-bedroom - These house between 3 and 5 people. These are probably the most popular type of apartment.

More room info

Resnik/West Wing - These are the two most popular dorms on campus. Situated by the UC, you don't even have a chance at getting in unless you're at least a sophomore. You don't have a chance at getting in with a roommate (AKA finding a completely vacant room) unless you're a junior. And you have no chance at getting in with multiple roommates (AKA finding a vacant suite). Period. Consists of prime and suite type rooms. Situated immediately next to the UC. Resnik contains Taste of India, one of two in-building dining places.

Morewood Avenue/Forbes Avenue/MaggieMo:
Mudge House - Some of the biggest rooms on campus. B and C tower are all prime double and single. A tower has prime double, triple, and quad, as well as standard rooms. A tower is highly in demand and hard to get into. However, Mudge is the furthest of the on-campus housing options.
Morewood Gardens - Upperclassmen usually "settle" for Morewood, but it is highly demanded by freshmen. E tower is freshmen only. A-D tower contains mostly prime single, double, and triple (with a few quad). Morewood is home to the Underground, the only other in-building dining place (which is highly appealing to freshmen).
New House - This building is freshmen only. Small rooms but the only building equipped with in-room AC and heat controls.
Doherty Apartments - Directly across the street from campus, these are some of the most popular apartments. They are also the most expensive--a 1-bedroom housing three students will run you more than other apartments' rooms housing two. Freshmen have almost no chance at getting in here.

The Hill:
Henderson - This is the "wellness" house, in which you theoretically participate in wellness activities twice a semester and keep substance free. It is small and consists of prime doubles. Was recently renovated, so is a nice place to live. Unfortunately, spaces tend to fill fast.
Donner - Some people love it, most people hate it. Donner has the biggest rooms on campus, but the facilities tend to be pretty bad (although they improved following Summer 2005 renovations). Consists of standard singles and doubles.
Scobell - Once again, some people love it, most people hate it. The rooms are among the smallest on campus, although the building and facilities are pretty nice. Consists of standard singles and doubles.
Boss/McGill - Two identical buildings, one all male, one all female. Consists entirely of prime doubles and singles. Demand is not particularly high, so these tend to fill up only after other options for prime-type rooms have been exhausted.
Hammerschlag - All male, all freshmen dorm. I've never really been there.
Welch - Consists of prime and standard rooms. Seems to be in demand, especially by freshmen. I've never really been here, either.
Margaret Morrison Apartments - I don't know anything about this building except that juniors love it.
Woodlawn Apartments - I don't know anything about this building.

Oakland Apartments:
Fairfax - Considered the best of the Oakland apartments. Located right on Fifth Avenue. Huge rooms, but only has 1-bedrooms and efficiencies. Beware though... smoking is allowed.
Webster - Considered the second best of the Oakland apartments. Located by Craig and Fifth. Decent rooms.
Catman - Some people love it, some hate it. The 1 and 2 bedroom apartments have huge bedrooms (especially if you use the dining room as an additional bedroom), but the building is old and run down. People generally avoid it.
Shady Oak - This building used to rock. Then housing came and cut most of the rooms in half. Now it sucks. Avoid it, unless you get one of the good rooms.
Veronica - Decent. Consists entirely of efficiencies. Across the street from Shady Oak and by Catman.
London Terrace - This is where the unlucky freshmen end up. The furthest of any Oakland apartment, and not worth the walk.
Shirley - This building has a "dorm-like" feel, which may be popular with some. I personally don't like it. Located next to Webster.

Housing Trends

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