the shaft
Article Image
@columbiaadmissions / via Instagram

Hurry home from spring break because lottery numbers are coming out tonight, Columbia!

But wait… What do those six random numbers mean anyway? Is it good or bad, and should I throw away my Ruggles dreams before I get too emotionally attached?

Columbia’s lottery system can be a little tricky for a newbie, but don’t worry––The Shaft and Spectrum have you covered.

Reading your number

There are two parts to each Columbian’s lottery number: one based on seniority and one randomly assigned.

Seniority numbers

The first part of your number will most likely be 30, 20, or 10. Seniors have 30, juniors have 20, and sophomores have 10. The higher your number, the better.

If you have assembled a mixed group (wait, WTF is that again?), then your first two digits will be the average of the group’s seniority numbers. For example, if you have two juniors and two sophomores, the first part of your lottery number will be 15 (because 20+20+10+10, all divided by four). A 15 is better than a 10, but still not as good as a 20. This is why forming mixed groups is ~strategic.~

When you’re reading each dorm’s cutoff numbers on The Shaft (basically, what the last lottery number was to get a certain dorm), read the seniority numbers first—a 30/3000 trumps a 20/1.

Random numbers

You want this part of your lottery number to be low. It’s set on a scale of one to 3000, with one being the best.

Putting it all together

  • The best lottery number: 30/1, i.e. a senior with the first overall pick.
  • The worst lottery number: 10/3000, i.e. a sophomore with the last overall pick.
  • A senior with 30/3000 still has a better number than a sophomore with 20/1 because of seniority.

You finally have a good understanding of what the numbers mean. What do you do with them now? Using the recent lottery cutoffs, we’ve compiled a list of the possible dorms you can snag with your lottery number. (Of course, even if a dorm is listed in the 1000-2000 section, for example, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it if you have a better number.)


Excited to finally get that EC suite you’ve been dreaming about since your year in Carman? Shooting for that spacious single? Let’s see what you might get with your number.

For numbers below 100:

  • Watt: Studio single

For numbers 100-500:

  • EC: five- or six-person high-rise with all singles

For numbers 500-1000:

  • EC: four-person townhouse
  • Woodbridge: The better two-bedroom apartment (with two people living there)

For numbers 1000-2000:

  • River: Big singles with a river view
  • Ruggles: four-person suite
  • Hogan: four- or five-person suite
  • EC: two-person flat
  • EC: two, three, or four- to six-person Townhouse with the RA
  • Broadway: Large single
  • Watt: two-bedroom apartment for two people

For numbers above 2000

  • Woodbridge: High-demand one-bedroom apartment for two people
  • EC: six-person townhouse (four singles, one double)
  • EC: five-person high-rise (three singles, one double)
  • EC: six-person townhouse (all singles)
  • Ruggles: two- or three in four-person suite with the RA
  • Claremont: four- or five-person suite
  • Hogan: two in four-person suite with the RA


Number below 500:

  • Watt: one-bedroom apartment for two people
  • Nussbaum: Single
  • Symposium: Studio double
  • Claremont: three- or six-person suite

For numbers 500-1000:

  • Woodbridge: Medium-demand one-bedroom apartment for two people

For numbers 1000-2000:

  • River: Single
  • Broadway: Interior or regular single

For numbers above 2000

  • Ruggles: eight-person suite (two singles, three doubles)
  • Harmony: six-Person Suite (four singles, one double)
  • Watt: Larger studio double
  • Woodbridge: Low-demand one-bedroom apartment for two people
  • Claremont: seven-person suite
  • Broadway: Interior double


Number below 500:

  • McBain: Single
  • Furnald: Single
  • Watt: Studio double

For numbers 500-1000:

  • Nussbaum: Walk-through double
  • Furnald: Double

For numbers 1000-2000:

  • Harmony: Single or double
  • Wien: Single and big walk-through double

For numbers above 2000

  • Schapiro: Double or walk-through double
  • Nussbaum: Double
  • Broadway: Large or regular double
  • Wien: Double and walk-through double
  • McBain: Double

Of course Columbia would make interpreting your lottery number as difficult as everything else at this school. On the bright side, The Shaft is by your side throughout this entire process. Be on the lookout for new content and guides this lottery season. Happy selection!

Got a great lottery number? Gloat about it on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Isabella Monaco is Spectrum’s associate editor and a Barnard first-year. She got an RA to pull her in, so she will be stress-free this lottery season. Reach her at

lottery the shaft housing lottery number dorms 47-claremont broadway east-campus furnald harmony hartley hogan mccain nussbaum river ruggles schapiro symposium wallach watt wien woodbridge
From Around the Web