Consider These Tips When Selecting a College Roommate

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If you've made your final decision on which college to attend, the next step often involves determining where you'll live, and who your roommate will be. Moving into a room with one or more complete strangers can be both exciting and a little nerve-wracking, but if you consider a few key factors, you may end up living with someone who is perfectly compatible with your lifestyle.

Many colleges still ask students to fill out questionnaires to match roommates. Some colleges have their own online matching systems, in which students fill out virtual profiles and select matches that way. Additionally, a website called RoomSurf matches students with roommates across many colleges.

Check College Rules

Although you may be hoping to choose your own roommate, keep in mind that some colleges like to be in more in charge of matching students with roommates because they believe it will enhance new ways of thinking, broaden students' perspectives and introduce them to people they may not otherwise have met, which can expand their social networks and strengthen engagement with the college community.

"College is a time of growth, and students can learn so much from others," notes Laurie Kopp Weingarten, president and chief educational consultant at One-Stop College Counseling in Marlboro, N.J. "Certain colleges won't allow incoming students to select their roommates, specifically because they want them to meet someone they would have never met on their own."

Often, students turn to social media profiles if they independently are trying to choose a roommate.

"It might not be the best way considering that people choose exactly how they want to present themselves, which isn't always accurate, on the social platforms," says Weingarten. "From speaking to current college students, I haven't seen proof that those roommates work out any better than the students who went 'random' [via the college matching process]."

Consider Sleep Habits, Cleanliness

If you are going to a college where you can choose your own roommate, there are things you might want to consider, including the following:

  • Sleep habits. Do you go to bed early? Do you go to bed late? What time do you wake up?
  • Course schedule. Do you have mostly morning or evening classes?
  • Specific interests. Do you have the option to live in a freshman-only dorm? Do you want to? Or are there dorms for specific individuals on campus with shared interests?
  • Cleanliness. Do you describe yourself as super neat or kind of messy? (Your potential roommate may want to know!)

Be honest in how you answer your questions to potential roommates to avoid a mismatch.

Weingarten recommends that if you are choosing your own roommate, you should look for somebody who prioritizes some of the same factors as you do.

"If you're clean and organized, you might want to choose somebody who isn't a self-proclaimed slob. And if you plan to take early morning classes, it won't make a lot of sense to room with somebody who likes to party at night, sleep in, and then start their day," she says. "You might want to consider a living/learning environment and choose to live in a dorm where students share a common interest (a love of French, pre-health career, etc., or you might prefer the opposite: to room with somebody who has completely different interests so that you can learn from them and develop new appreciations."

No matter whether you have a choice in your roommate or you are matched with a student you have not selected, try to keep an open mind and be flexible when learning to live with someone new. Remember, you won't be spending all of your time in your room because you'll be going to classes, meeting other people outside of your dorm, getting involved in activities, studying and possibly working as well.

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