Every incoming boarder at Andover receives a survey about housing preferences before the start of their first school year. On the questionnaire, students answer questions regarding their dorm preferences, as well as questions regarding a potential roommate.
“I put that I wanted a clean roommate just because I know I am very not clean, and I wanted someone who would force me to be clean. [Although] we’re not very interested in the same clubs or anything… [my roommate] is energetic… [and] clean, so it did work out,” said Reimi Kusaka ’21, a Junior in Nathan Hale House.
The process of actually placing new Juniors into dorms, however, is not as simple. According to Rajesh Mundra, Assistant Dean of Students and Instructor in Biology, the housing process for new students does not happen quickly or easily.
“There’s a lot going on, especially if you don’t know how normal housing works. We are careful about putting [students] in an environment where there are going to be other students also in a similar situation to them. So, they can form camaraderie in that way,” said Mundra.
The questionnaire includes options for a single, a double, and a triple. According to Mundra, health issues are also taken into account, as some students may need to visit the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center more frequently than others. Students are also asked to list their interests and characteristics they would like in a roommate.
After all the forms are collected, the Dean of Students Office collaborates with the Shuman Office of Admissions.
“The people who know the new students best are the admissions officers because they have just read their files, and they kind of know who they are. We don’t really know them yet because they haven’t come into the community. So then now it’s a partnership of the admissions office and our office to sort of house the students,” said Mundra.
According to Mundra, there is a specific person in the Shuman Office of Admissions to preside over boys or girls in each respective class. This person helps to decide which Junior goes into which dorm. Along with each individual student, these officers consider the overall mix of students in each dorm as well as the diversity that can be created through the housing process.
Mundra said, “We are committed to having students experience diverse culture in their housing process. Then we try to match [students], even by floor. Is this going to be a floor that’s going to be diverse and representative of the Andover community? [We question] things like that.”
For many Juniors, their dorms and roommates become key facets of their adjustment to Andover. According to Sofia Garcia ’21, a student in Nathan Hale House, roommates become close friends.
“My roommate is pretty organized. We both do crew together, [and] we share a few classes. She’s super duper nice, and she ended up being [one of] my best friends,” said Garcia.
According to Mundra, most other schools simply do not provide options regarding housing. Andover students have more flexibility than others, in terms of moving to different dorms throughout their years at the school.
Mundra said, “[In] other schools, you stay in your dorm for four years. There is very little room change. What you have is what you have, and those are usually big dorms. We have 42 dorms, and [that’s] unusual.”