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5 Simple Tips for Picking a First-Year Roommate

Your college roommate is someone you'll be spending a ton of time with, so you want a good match. Here are five tips to help you choose the right person.

Now that you’ve committed to a college, your mind has most likely been drifting to other plans for the next four years: the classes you want to take, the clubs you want to join, deciding whether Biology or Pre-law is more for you, and—of course—the mysterious new person you’ll be living with for the next year (or more). 

Almost all college students are assigned to double, triple, or quad dorms as freshmen, and to alleviate the stress of rooming with a stranger, many schools allow students to choose their own roommates as early as their first year. Policies vary by institution, but be aware that greater freedom comes with its own set of benefits and responsibilities. Here are some tips for the quickest and easiest ways to choose a roommate and—potentially—your new best friend. 

1. Check your college’s guidelines

Many schools will place you with someone automatically if you both request each other; however, some go the old-fashioned route and assign you randomly or based on the results of a survey. For instance, New York University chooses roommates based on geographical diversity. You’ll almost certainly be placed with someone of the same gender, unless you attend Clark UniversityBrown UniversityUniversity of Pennsylvania, or another college that permits coed roommates if both parties choose each other. Research your school’s housing policy and the possibility of living in a double, triple, or quad, then log on to your social media site of choice and start searching!

Related: How College Roommate Selection Really Works

2. Join class social media profiles and pages

I found my roommate through my college’s official class Facebook page, but accepted students often set up their own Instagram and Snapchat groups to get connected. It’s common to post a short bio with photos of yourself and your name, hometown, intended major, additional hobbies and interests, social media handles, and ways to contact you. Some will specify what they’re looking for in a roommate, such as a fellow athlete or a night owl, but students of all backgrounds and personalities can coexist with success.

3. Reach out to others

Making the first move can be scary. Still, it’s ultimately easier to introduce yourself to others than to wait for them to come to you. (And remember, they’re probably just as intimidated by the prospect of finding a roommate.) Start small by commenting on a post a classmate made or complimenting them on a particular interest or trait. If you seem to hit it off, move on to a more private method of communication like email or texting, and ask questions with the aim of getting to know them better. If you have enough in common and believe that you’d be a good match, wait a few days to ask if they’d be interested in rooming with you. If, conversely, they ask you but you’re not interested or unsure, you can turn them down politely by saying you’ve already found a roommate.

Related: COVID–19 Dorm Life: 8 Roommate Communication Tips

4. Make an official agreement

Though you may think you and your future roommate have an agreement to live together, be sure to make it clear before it comes time to request them so you’re not left hanging. You can always check back in once you’ve started the housing form to confirm that they’re still interested and reiterate how excited you are to room with them. Bear in mind that you still may be assigned another roommate or two, so it’s a good idea to reach out to that third or fourth person if you find out that’s the case. 

5. Take the survey

Even if you decide to request your own roommate, many colleges still require you to fill out a personal profile for selection purposes, especially with the possibility of being placed in a triple or quad. Make sure to complete it on time and put in the name of your first choice. This will ensure you at least get one roommate you want and also get matched with someone that will be a good fit for you and your chosen roommate.

Related: 7 Secrets to Finding the Perfect College Roommate

If you’re still unsure about your housing plans, don’t be afraid to throw your name into the lottery. Answer honestly and enjoy the excitement of getting to know someone new and unexpected. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll end up liking whoever your roommate turns out to be.

Find more college roommate advice with the blogs and articles in our Student Life section. 

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About Eliza Browning

Eliza Browning is a high school senior in Connecticut planning to study English, History, and Creative Writing at college in the fall. She edits her school's literary magazine, and her writing has been honored by several local and national publications.

 

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