Parents’ guide to undergraduate housing at MIT
Shock of the new
Housing at MIT often comes as a surprise to parents of undergraduates. Many of you are familiar with the traditional housing lottery in which students’ names are tossed into a computer, then more or less randomly matched to a residence hall room.
We assign housing using a computer, too, but using an advanced algorithm that we’ve developed so that students get a great deal of choice. Our idea is that university life is much more engaging and friendly if a student who is passionate about movies or chess or social justice has the opportunity to live with other students who share those interests.
College is a major transition for most teenagers. We want to give them a natural support system of like-minded peers to maximize the fun and minimize the stress of living away from home in a demanding environment. Most important, if they like where they live, they can stay there for all four years.
The MIT model is roommates as soul mates, and it has stood the test of time. Students end up building strong bonds with a network of friends—bonds that last for years beyond their time at MIT.
Helping your student choose
There are a couple of key ways you can help your son or daughter make the right decision about where to live. First, let him or her talk through their thinking about which residences appeal and which don’t. Second, encourage your student to research the options. Here’s how:
- Visit the undergraduate residential communities here on this website to learn what sets them apart.
- Read the Guide to Residences. It also includes a video intro to undergraduate housing at MIT. Your student will receive an email with a link to this no later than the end of May. If you have not received the link, you can find it on this site, along with a downloadable PDF, by the end of May.
- Talk to other students. At MIT, returning students are eager to help freshmen find a residence that suits them. Residence life is a powerful aspect of the MIT culture, and students are pretty enthusiastic about where they live. They want every student to find a true home at MIT just as they have.
- Blog with MIT students or meet them during REX (Residence Exploration). Your student can also get in touch with us if they want to connect with an older student before they arrive at MIT.
Why all this moving around?
When first-year students arrive on campus, they move into a housing assignment that closely matches the specifications they submitted over the summer. Experience tells us, however, that once they meet people and get a look around, they sometimes have second thoughts. We think students should be able to act on those second thoughts and move to the residence that makes them feel most comfortable.
Experience also tells us that making these adjustments early usually makes for happier students who are inclined to stay put in their chosen homes for the balance of their time at MIT. A little craziness at the beginning means less craziness later on when the student is trying to concentrate on academics and activities.
We have invested a considerable amount of MIT ingenuity into creating a healthy and engaging undergraduate housing environment. Every residence has faculty, staff, graduate students, and seasoned undergraduate advisors in place to offer guidance and support. These advisors are a constant in the students’ lives and important members of the “family life” of each residence.
Good to know
Here are a few links that might answer other questions you have about moving your son or daughter to MIT, including some support systems designed especially for parents.