College should be about broadening your horizons, exploring life from a different perspective, and learning who you can be in this world. Some of those experiences come straight from your dorm room through the relationship you create with your roommate. Good, bad, and ugly, the roommate situation is something almost every single college student will experience. We have our own stories! One CAA coach tells the story of a strong friendship that was built by spending time together as roommates. Another coach tells the story of his roommate talking so loudly in his sleep that it woke him up in the middle of the night! And, one CAA coach lamented that her roommate never cleaned out the fishbowl even after her fish had died!
It’s obvious that not everyone can live together and this can sometimes make or break your enjoyment of the college experience. The good thing is colleges realize a neat freak and a slob probably won’t get along, so many try to keep that from happening. In the past, most colleges had their incoming freshman fill out a housing application. This application not only helps you choose which hall you want to live in but who you would bunk with as well. Some colleges still use this method to match roommates. Many colleges are now using technology that allows the student to choose their own roommate. Roomsync, which is a matching app on Facebook, is used by several colleges including Northwestern University, the University of Houston, and the University of Southern Indiana. Basically, this app allows you to rank your living preferences (e.g. level of neatness, studiousness, noise volume, etc.) and then browse a list of suggested roommates and view their profile pictures. You can also search through specific criteria. Once you find your match you can message them on Facebook and, if you both agree, you let the college know. Another app colleges have started using to match roommates is StarRez. This app works much like Facebook’s Roomsync but does not divulge a person’s name or show a picture. Some people think learning to get along with a complete stranger who has different views is part of the adventure that is going to college. Whatever your view, CAA hopes you find what you’re looking for in a college roommate. Here are a few tips from our coaches to consider before you spend your first night in the dorms this fall:
1. Contact your roommate by phone, email, social media, or a good ol’ fashioned snail mail to tell them about yourself. Share where you’re from, tell them your hobbies, say that you’re excited to meet them, and mention what you’re studying and what you plan to do while at college. 2. When you contact them, find out what they plan to bring. You won’t need two TV’s and may want to know about any pet goldfish! 3. Once you’re settled, discuss your ground rules with your roommate. Be honest!! Go over what your expectations are considering study habits, visitors, and cleanliness. This step can help you both avoid confrontations later and greatly improve your overall college experience. 4. Before you start creating a list of your ground rules, talk them over with someone who knows you well. They might be able to offer a better way to approach any sensitive topics or let you know if your expectations are off track. 5. Find out where your Resident Advisor (RA) lives and get to know them. RA’s are older college students who give advice, help you adjust, and help with roommate problems. 6. Go do something together! Get to know your roommate on a personal level outside of the dorm room. This can help you find common ground. 7. Finally, know your college’s housing policies. Can you get out of a bad situation? Even with surveys, algorithms, and high-tech apps, you could still find yourself incompatible with your roommate. Don’t be afraid to move if you have tried your best and still cannot get along.