Wish Letters

What it is: A wish letter is a request (usually by email) to change your housing assignment for the Fall Term after the lottery is over. These are submitted by students who participated in the lottery, but want to make further changes to their housing. These usually make up about less than 9% of upperclass housing.


The process: First, wish letters are submitted to the House Administrator up through June 12. The House Administrator saves all of the letters.

In mid-summer, the House Administrator takes a first attempt at housing all of the incoming sophomores, and then looks at wish letter requests to see how these letters will affect housing. The administrator will then re-organize incoming sophomores in response to the wish letters, with a goal of answering as many as possible.

Late in the summer, after many iterations of housing, the wish letters are reviewed by a committee of summer staff (none of whom participated in the lottery) who advise the House Administrator about the letters, asking questions and making sure the process of responding to the letters was fair and well-considered.

Once all agree on the outcomes, the wish letter responses are sent out, usually in August, before sophomore housing is announced.


Writing your wish letter: After April 6th, you may email your wish letter to the house administrator (apepper@fas.harvard.edu); please include "wish letter" in the subject line of your email. In your message, CC everyone involved in your decision if it is an addition, or re-arrangement of your housing group. For example, if you are asking to add someone to your suite from a different suite, then CC all the members currently planning on being in your suite, plus the new person you would like to add. If you wish to leave your blocking group and move to a single, you can write to the House Administrator privately.


Just as a reminder, you cannot request to be re-housed to live with anyone who will not be living in Cabot during the Fall Term.

The best wish letters are:

  • Honest representations of what you (and/or your group) want
  • Broadly worded or phrased, so that more than one specific room could meet your need (for example, if your wish letter says only that you would like D-41, and there are 3 other groups who also say they want to live in D-41, then it becomes more difficult to meet that need. But if you said "our group of 4 would like to live in an uncrowded quad, preferably in Briggs Hall, but any building will do" that would be easier to accommodate).
  • Representations of what everyone listed in the wish letter wants, not just what some members want.


A wish letter may be rejected from consideration for the following reasons:

  • A person mentioned in the wish letter is not going to be on campus for the upcoming Fall Term
  • Not all members listed in the wish letter are comfortable with the requested change to their housing
  • The wish letter includes misrepresentations of the truth


Housing requests by the AEO, BGLTQ office, or ad board will take priority over all other wish letters. Wish letters with no such rider attached are organized by lottery number, but are given no other priority-- no claims of injury, insomnia, mental or emotional distress, height, weight, race/ethnicity, sporting interests, personal habits nor similar content of any kind will change the value of one wish letter over another. All such issues are important. All of them are worthy of consideration, and the house will not make a judgement call about which request is most worthy. The point of wish letters is to try to maximize happiness for everyone.

If you have a legitimate medical or personal need for a housing accommodation, you are encouraged to contact the AEO, who will in turn advise the House on how to handle delicate housing matters.

Cabot will try to accommodate as many wish letters as it can. Please note that Cabot has a responsibility to Harvard College to house everyone assigned to live here, and to be responsive to the needs of the Office of Student Life. It is not always feasible to leave bedrooms open.