Registration through the ages

Housing selection for GW students takes no more than a few clicks at their home computers. But iHousing, the Web-based program the University used to assign housing, is still in its infancy.

Less than 10 years ago, students lined up inside Marvin Center to fight for rooms. Over the years, housing registration has advanced with technology and student needs.

Seth Weinshel, assignment director of GW Housing Programs, said from the 1980s until 2000 a lottery system was used to assign housing. The first floor of the Marvin Center would have an area with poster boards representing each residence, each with a grid representing individual rooms.

The University assigned every student a lottery number and a ten-minute window where students could go and place their names and a roommate’s name on a poster. Each grade had its own registration day, and registration took place from about 8 a.m. to midnight.

As GW’s undergraduate population grew, GW Housing Programs realized it needed to find a faster way to assign housing and subsequently made the move online, Weinshel said.

In this incarnation of registration, each student was assigned a lottery number and a 15-minute window to go online and select his or her housing. But this system had flaws, too – students could watch the selection of rooms dwindle until it was their time to pick.

“Students would sit and watch all the housing selections disappear . (The students) worked themselves into a frenzy,” Weinshel said.

Weinshel said students often said it seemed like they could not get their first choice unless they had a top-10 lottery number.

The old online registration system also led students to back out of agreements to live with roommates to take advantage of more desirable dorm.

“In randomizing the process some of the peer pressure was taken out,” Weinshel said, adding that iHousing “causes students less angst.”

Although iHousing is experiencing its own glitches, Weinshel said GW Housing Programs hopes to continue improving the system, eventually altering the selection process so that all students register in the same week.

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