Student startup seeks to give incoming students more info about University housing

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DORMLY wants to change the nerve-racking experience of moving to college for the first time. The student startup seeks to improve the first-year experience by generating a list of top-rankings dorms and student groups based on survey answers.

Julia Karten, Reporter

Moving into a college dorm can be nerve-racking. A student-found startup wants to change the experience.

Every Fall Quarter, many students leave home for the first time, not knowing another face in their freshman class. On top of this, they feel the stress of choosing a dorm with little guidance, debating which side of campus to live on and what communities may fit their needs.

That’s why Northwestern first-years Sebastian Caceres, Crockett Callaway and Aditya Kalra founded DORMLY, an online service to make the first-year experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Last month, DORMLY launched its first product, The Guide. Incoming students fill out a brief online questionnaire, including questions regarding how social dorms are to where the prospective student likes to study. Based on those responses, DORMLY generates a top-three ranking of dorms and student groups for $15.

Callaway, a McCormick first-year, said he and the other DORMLY co-founders came up with the idea for the company after feeling the stress of the move-in experience themselves.

“Dorm information was scattered and housing descriptions are confusing and impersonal,” Callaway said. “None of us knew which dorm was perfect for us.”

With help from The Garage, the co-founders said they created their website and began extensive research on dorm life. To make the guides for dorms and campus organizations, they said they spent hours assembling focus groups and administering hundreds of surveys to collect student insight on what it’s actually like to live in these dorms.

Caceres, a Communication first-year, said this research was crucial for setting up the foundation for The Guide.

“A lot of the resources that you’ll find online don’t necessarily tell you what the living experience is like,” Caceres said. “So this groundwork and research really just allowed us to tailor a questionnaire for the guide and make it as personal as possible for our students.”

Caceres added that he and the partners hope the company will expand to other universities and offer more varied services on improving the freshman year experience.

“Our biggest goal right now is expanding to more schools and just making this a product that’s available to other students,” Caceres said.

The company has served just under 100 customers with personalized housing and club guides, Caceres said.

Iris Lin, an incoming first-year, said she was initially very nervous about the housing process. However, she said using DORMLY helped her choose a dorm.

“I think housing was something that I was stressed about because it plays an important part in who you become friends with and the activities that you join,” Lin said. “DORMLY made it a lot easier because they gave me a personalized set of housing that I could just follow and it was really catered specifically towards me.

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Twitter: @julia_karten

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