Waiting on a Place to Call Home

In the face of high prices of off-campus housing near UCSD, many students aren’t offered the option of living on-campus. For rising sophomores on the housing waitlist, the uncertainty forces them to pay the price of certainty or live in limbo.

As the 2021-2022 school year draws to a close, students across the UC San Diego campus are in the midst of finalizing their housing plans for the next year. However, with the competitive and expensive San Diego housing market, many students opt for on-campus housing for both convenience and savings.

For many rising sophomores, this leaves them in an uncertain position: the housing waitlist. 

While incoming freshmen are guaranteed housing — juniors and seniors are locked out of the process — the possibility of obtaining the generally more desirable on-campus housing is based on chance for sophomores. 

Rising sophomores seeking on-campus housing for the 2022-2023 school year filled out an application for a housing contract in late February and received their results on March 8. 

For students who received on-campus housing (which was done on a lottery basis), this was a simple congratulations followed by instructions for the next steps. Students on the waitlist however, received much less information. 

Sixth College rising sophomore Kate Oltman discussed her experience with The UCSD Guardian.

“I got put on the housing waitlist, spot like 200 something, I don’t even know how many people are on the waitlist, so I don’t know how far in I am,” Oltman said. “They say, ‘here’s a bunch of links for all the waitlist stuff, or if you don’t wanna be on the waitlist, here’s off-campus housing things!’ But they really didn’t have any information on the waitlist itself, it’s just like, ‘yep, you’re on the waitlist! You gotta wait!’”

Information about the housing waitlist can be confusing for students to find. To answer their questions about the waitlist (not including the family housing or graduate student waitlists), students must go to the overall housing website and go to the “Waitlist” section of Frequently Asked Questions. 

“The way they have their websites set up are so terrible, cause there’s subpages for subpages and you have to go through the first one to get to the second one,” Oltman said. “It’s like they’re purposefully making this hard.” 

On that FAQ page, it says both “offers are made as space becomes available.” However, it also says, “The Fall 2022 Undergraduate Housing Waitlist will open on July 7, 2022.” This inconsistency made it hard for waitlist students to figure out the exact terms of the waitlist.

Oltman explained her interactions with the housing department: 

“I had to go and email the people, asking them …‘has the waitlist moved? When will I be able to know? Will people who are currently looking for roommates be able to add me as a roommate?’” Oltman said. “And they straight-up said, ‘no, we’re not moving the housing waitlist queue until later this summer, and we won’t be able to get back to you until we know basically exactly how many spots we can give out to people.’” 

Because students don’t know whether or not they’ll be able to get on-campus housing for the next school year, it makes their plans uncertain. 

Oltman expressed some concern over the prospect of not getting off the waitlist. She lives approximately 30 to 40 minutes away from campus, which makes commuting possible but not ideal. 

Alternately, international student and rising sophomore in Sixth College Minko Ma decided to decline the waitlist in order to solidify her housing plans sooner. Ma plans to participate in the UCSD Summer Session. 

“I have to move out of this room by next month, so I think it’s impossible, cause if I wanna live on campus in summer, I have to live in Seventh College,” Ma said. “They only allow students to live there during summer sessions, so I think if I have to move twice, it’s a waste of time. So I decided, ‘okay, I just wanna move one time to off campus, so I can just stay there for one year and not need to move once again.’” 

Ma has planned out her off-campus housing, and already has both a roommate and an apartment. 

Although the UCSD administration has created some triple rooms from doubles in order to create more housing for next year, the solution to the long-term housing problem is still unresolved. 

“I really hope the school can open more positions for continuing students,” Ma said. “Because living off campus is, is much — I can’t say much more expensive, but it should be more expensive, and more time on transportation to go to school and go back to my apartment.”

Image Courtesy of Pexels by Thirdman

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