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Housing applications for the 2020-2021 academic year will open on Jan. 23. Credit: Annie Luo

Following student feedback, College Houses and Academic Services will be offering room tours and more informational programs than in previous years before housing applications open in January. 

Director of Four-Year Houses and Residential Programs for CHAS Ryan Keytack said CHAS is changing its approach because last year, students asked questions at information sessions that made him realize that existing programs did not focus enough on the differences between the college houses. 

Keytack said last year's information sessions, which focused on facts and deadlines, may have frustrated students who were hoping to hear what the rooms in each college house are like. 

To address student concerns, Keytack said students will be allowed to see rooms and community spaces in CHAS's upcoming room tours in January. CHAS will also be hosting three informational programs in December and additional sessions in January. 

Last year, only one information session was offered, and it took place in January. Keytack said CHAS began offering informational programs at an earlier date this year to give students more time to think about their options and understand their choices. 

Additionally, Keytack said the new informational programs will be more interactive — students will have more opportunities to talk to current residents about their experiences living in their college houses. 

Keytack said the reformed marketing tactics are also part of a campus-wide movement as Penn prepares to require all sophomores to live on campus, beginning with the Class of 2024.

“The concept is not new, it’s just that now the larger system is shifting in that direction, so we’re thinking of all the points to make sure that students have access to good information,” Keytack said.

The first event of the month, the College House Living Fair, took place on Dec. 4. Keytack said there were several hundred students at the event, which allowed attendees to interact with CHAS, Residential Services, Penn Dining, and students living in the upperclassman houses. 

“It was nice because I got a lot of info sheets about deadlines and the different types of options that I had,” Wharton freshman Audrey Hsu said. Hsu added that she also learned about different Program Communities, which she did not know were open to upperclassmen.

Not all students have seen the benefits of the new programming. Wharton freshman Shawn-Ryan Bootsma said he did not know about the living fair or other events that were taking place. 

“I think that there's sufficient information out there, but I think that you really have to be on top of things yourself and looking for the information,” Bootsma said.

The next event is a Four-Year House Luncheon & Fair, taking place on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. in Lauder College House.

Housing applications for the 2020-21 academic year will open on Jan. 23. Last year, the on-campus housing application changed from three separate applications to one in order to simplify the process. Keytack said the applications will not undergo additional major changes for the upcoming cycle.

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