Students are classified as seniors, juniors or sophomores in the room selection process. This standing either determines how many points a student brings to the group (in the apartments and suites lotteries) or it determines how early in the room draw process a student selects a room. Room selection status is not tied to a student's academic classification. This means that a student who is classified as a senior according to the Registrar may be classified as a junior in the room draw process.
How room selection status is determined
For students who start at Cornell as a first-year student, their status is determined by the number of full years they have attended Cornell. So, an individual who started at Cornell as a first-year student and is completing his or her third year is seen as a current junior and will have senior status going into room selection.
Room selection status for transfer students, students who start mid-year and students who take time off from the College
In general, for a transfer student's first year at Cornell, any student who enters the College mid-year or a student who temporarily separates from the College and then returns, Residence Life looks at the individual's anticipated graduation year and counts backwards. So, a student who has the balance of the current year and two additional years to go before graduation will be seen as a current sophomore and so will have junior status going into room selection. This process is used for the student's first room selection (or, in the case of a student who took time off from the College, the first room selection after the student's return). That individual's status the following year will be one status year higher (so a transfer student who draws as a junior one year will draw as a senior the following year).
Additional criteria regarding room selection status
Because students with senior status in room selection have the most options available to them, students typically do not draw as a senior for more than one year. Students who start at Cornell as a first-year student are rarely impacted by this. On occasion, a transfer student will be impacted and that student's room selection status will be adjusted accordingly.
Confirmation of room selection status
Before room selection begins, Residence Life will e-mail all students with their room selection status, Any student who thinks that this status is incorrect is encouraged to respond to that e-mail or to come to Residence Life.
Rationale for not using a student's academic status
The primary reason we do not do follow the Registrar's classification is because of a student who, for whatever reason, falls short in a given year. A student currently needs at least 7 credits to be considered a sophomore. We can envision several reasons where a first-year student is here at Cornell for a full year but who fails to meet that standard (illness, course content, family emergency, etc.). We believe this student should still draw as a sophomore for the coming year. Because we do not "penalize" a student who has not earned enough credits, we choose not to "promote" a student who has more credits.