March Madness in April

Jimmermania is over. Butler’s second straight (almost) storybook year has come to a screeching halt, and UConn has raised the trophy. Yes, March Madness has come and gone and with it, you’re daily dose of sports insanity. Don’t fret, because April at Andover has its own high stakes tournament: the Housing Lottery.

And, just like March Madness, futures are made and broken at a moments notice. While contracts worth millions of dollars aren’t on the line here at school, your home–and who’s in it–for the next year is. And that’s a big deal.

A bad roommate can destroy your year just as much as a good one can make it. Get stuck with Oscar the Grouch and your next year at Andover is going to be a struggle. You’ll avoid going back to your room at all costs. Since you can’t work in your room with the Grouch anymore, finding new places to study will become an issue. The library can be good, but it’s easy to get distracted in a building full of almost as many kids as books. Gelb’s another option, but just like the library it has its downsides.

Select a great roommate, though, and you have to deal with none of this. You’re happy to be in your room and are able to work and still be happy when the person you live with is around. If this is you, congratulations. You’ve made it to the Elite Eight of the Housing Lottery. If not, better luck next year.

Just like in the Big Dance, the competition gets stiffer as the tournament goes on. With your good roommate, you’ve made a solid start, but the biggest hurdle is deciding which cluster you want to live in. Quaint suburbs (the Quads)? Downtown (Abbot)? Middle of the woods (Pine Knoll)? These are just a few of the options presented to a roommate pair looking for housing, and selecting the dorm of your choice is only the first challenge. You then need to find out how to get into it. Made up your mind? Well done, you’re in the Final Four.

If your roommate is in the cluster of the dorm you want or if you are, you’re in luck. The pull-in system is fairly straightforward and with any luck in the in-cluster lottery you’ll get into your dream dorm. For those unfortunate enough not to get into a dorm through the in-cluster lottery, or for those who choose not to enter their in-clusters, it’s on to the All-School Lottery. This is where futures are made and dreams are broken. Pull a low enough number and you’re in. Pull too high, though, and you could end up making a 15-minute trek to Commons every morning. This is it. The Championship, the final decider. Lose and you’re out. Win, and you’ve done the impossible.

But is it really this dramatic? Sure, the housing process is something that deserves attention and can obviously bring on some stress, but it’s far too easy to blow it out of proportion. The fact is, every year at Andover is what you make it. Is it a good idea to strive for the perfect rooming situation? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always going to happen. And if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. So make the best of the housing process and remember: if your tournament run ended earlier than you wanted it to this year, don’t worry. You get to do it all over again 12 months from now. Keep striving for that perfect run to the top, and if you need inspiration, look what happened to Butler! Oh wait…

Zach Merchant is a two-year Lower from Lebanon, PA.