Last Updated: May 31, 2019
One of the most exciting and stressful parts of getting into college is finding a roommate. This person will be sharing a very small space with you for the next year. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who doesn’t mesh with you—everyone has heard horror stories about being exiled from their room every other night, or of roommates constantly breaking rules or making a mess.
Alternatively, you also hear stories about roommates who become best friends and are the maid of honor in each other’s weddings. The question is: how do you work make sure you end up with the latter (or a happy medium)?
First of all, be honest with yourself. If you’re messy and don’t plan on becoming a neat freak in the next few months, don’t claim you’re “neat but are okay with a little bit of a mess.” If your roommate really likes a clean room, it will create a lot of problems in the future. Honesty is going to be so much better for your future roommate relationship.
Think about your preferences
Know what you want in a college roommate. Are you intending to use your dorm space for more social activities, a place to study, or just a place to decompress? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Would you mind a roommate who does a lot of partying, or do you want someone who keeps to themselves? Talking about these preferences is essential before moving into your dorm at the beginning of the semester. Later on, it can also be helpful to make a roommate agreement to set some mutual guidelines, which can help you avoid potential issues.
Know where to look
Once you have an idea of how you will be living and what you want in a roommate, it’s time to start looking! Most colleges will have some sort of website dedicated to finding a roommate, such as Residential Life, that include questionnaires regarding important roommate information: sleep schedule, messiness, the intent of the room space, etc. It helps narrow down the search. But you shouldn’t stop looking there; colleges set up a ton of other ways for rising freshmen to connect. This could mean going to the Facebook group that most colleges have and asking if people are still looking, adding students on Snapchat or Instagram and talking there, or even exchanging phone numbers. Talk to as many people as you want, because even if you don’t find a roommate, you may find a new friend you can meet up with in the fall.
Consider your packing list
Decide what you are bringing with you to college. Are you going to be the one to have a mini-fridge, or are you hoping your roommate will bring one if you bring a coffee pot? Go into this search with the understanding that you’ll have to share a lot of the bigger furniture or electronics. Also evaluate necessities: yes, you will need a fridge or a microwave, but will you be content without a TV? If not, find someone who might bring one if you are not.
Look for shared interests
Not sure who you might get along with? Try to find someone in your major. You could end up having an overlap in classes, which makes it really easy to find a study buddy. Not only that, but it creates a common ground, so you won’t be sharing a room with a total stranger for eight months.
On the other hand, there can be such a thing as too much time together—if you need space, it might be hard to find it with such similar schedules. There are a lot of benefits to living with someone in a completely different major too, so don’t rule out anything before getting to know a potential roommate further. Which leads me to the last tip…
You need to talk to someone before becoming their roommate! While the questionnaires most colleges provide are a good base, there isn’t a whole lot of questions that attest to someone’s personality. While you may like their sleep schedule or cleanliness, you might not mesh with them at all. Give them your social media handles and actually talk to them for a while before making a decision.
Get an assigned roommate
If you feel like you aren’t connecting with anyone, or you don’t want to deal with the stress of talking to so many people, most colleges have a randomized roommate option. While you won’t know who you’re rooming with until you receive your housing assignment—meaning you could be matched with someone who you don’t exactly mesh with—you could also end up with the perfect person for you. You never know!
Finding a roommate can be hard but also a lot of fun. It’s just one more thing to look forward to before college starts in the fall!