How to Survive Being Stuck on the Waitlist

By Laura K. Garrison

Sorry first-years, it’s inevitable: some of you are going to be stuck on the housing waitlist. While you may have had gilded dreams of a suite in the 600s, chances were high numbers amongst the Class of 2016 that you didn’t even get a chance to face the computer screen of housing fate. This can be incredibly disappointing (and downright scary), but it can also be a blessing in disguise. Don’t believe me? I was on the waitlist last year and ended up in better housing than I might have gotten otherwise. If on housing day you were told the fateful news, here’s how to deal.

Don’t Panic
I was heartbroken when a well-meaning RA explained that I was being forced onto the waitlist, quickly followed by feelings of anger, frustration, jealousy, and inadequacy. How could ResLife let this happen? Why me? As horrible scenarios of commuting from New Jersey or living on someone’s floor ran through my head, I started to panic. This is counterproductive. The important thing to remember is that you are guaranteed housing – Barnard is required, by contract, to put you somewhere. You may not have a choice in the matter, but you will have a bed to sleep in. Swallow back your tears and cross your fingers.

Chances are there are a lot of familiar faces looking just as glum as you do. When you are put on the waitlist, ResLife will ask you to fill out a worksheet ranking your most ideal living situations (single? suite? messy? neat?). You can also note whether you’d like to live with someone else on the waitlist, though the decision has to be mutual to be honored. Find a friend or two with whom you’d like to try your luck. You could end up in a suite together or down the hall from one another (as happened to me). If you buddy up, the waitlist will seem a lot less daunting.

Be Optimistic

Think of the sunsets!

Yes there is no housing available right now, but that won’t be the case for long. Seniors and juniors are in the process of finalizing study abroad plans and looking for off-campus housing, so some of them will drop out of their rooms by the end of the semester. This frees up space for you, including lots of choice real estate. Because seniors and juniors have the lowest numbers on campus they have the best housing. As they give up their rooms, the waitlisted are placed into housing they wouldn’t have had a chance of selecting otherwise. Sophomores have gotten into Sulz Tower this way, although I make no promises that this will happen to you. Over the summer I was placed into one of the larger Hewitt singles with a beautiful view of the Hudson River, way better than first-years who had to pick over the leftovers. Believe that you’re going to end up in really great housing; you just can’t claim it yet.

Move On
If you’re on the waitlist, you won’t get your housing assignment until mid- to late- July, so why worry now? You have bigger fish to fry, like papers and exams and your weekend plans. Take a deep breath, hand in your Housing Contract, and hope for the best. Though I was bound and determined not to live in Hewitt last year, I’ve come to love having my own space with great sunsets and friends down the hall. I know it’s tough to move on when you feel like the floor has bottomed out beneath you, but trust me in knowing that it’s going to be okay. Just like that assignment you left to the last minute, everything is going to work itself out. It always does.

Laura K. Garrison is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images from Crush Cul de Sac and New York Guest


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