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To Choose (or Not to Choose) Your Roommate At College

Once you’ve decided which uni to grace with your presence, and once you’ve even briefly considered your major (no need to make a final decision yet), next you need to think about who you’ll room with on campus. Do you choose your own roommate, or let the school pick for you? What are the pros and cons of each?

The biggest pro of letting the school choose your roomie for you, of course, is that you’ll be experiencing something (someone?) entirely new, possibly unexpected, and with that is an air of adventure. Most colleges make every effort to match you with someone who has similar sleep patterns and who values tidiness as much as you do, and maybe even someone you share an interest with. But this is college life! It’s supposed to be new and exciting, and part of that thrill can be opening the door to your dorm room and meeting your future bestie for the first time.

The flip side is that rather than anew addition to your squad, you’ll meet your nemesis, someone who snores loudly (you sleep lightly) and whose cleaning habits leave a lot to be desired… possibly even someone who eats your last yoghurt and lies about it. Perhaps, then, if this is your fear, you’ll want to choose your roommate yourself.

When you applied for on-campus housing, chances are, your college gave you information on how to go online to meet and screen your potential roommates. More often than not, there are questionnaires, with talking points reminiscent of that OK Cupid account you and your squad put together for your mom last year. Aside from the basics, like major and sleep schedule and where you’re from, these surveys can get quite detailed… and time-consuming. If you really want to find your ideal roomie match, be prepared to spend at least an hour completing your profile, and half an hour screening and communicating with potentials.

You’re encouraged, via private message, to clarify anything on the questionnaire, and to ask your own questions. Smart, serious questions may include whether or not that person has food allergies, has study habits like yours, and so on. Once you think you might have found a roommate candidate/new best friend for life, feel free to ask more fun questions, like what their favorite snacks are (and if it’s okay to share), which shows they’re currently binge-watching on Netflix, and whether they’re Team Mystic, Instinct, or Valor. If there’s anything you think a potential roommate should know, this is the time to share it. For example, if you get up early to do yoga in your room, are allergic to strawberries, or enjoy yodeling, this would be good information to share.

Once you’ve narrowed the field to two or three candidates, try to schedule a meet-up and see how you get along in person. Most schools can’t (and don’t) guarantee the roomie you choose will actually end up sharing a dorm room with you, but they’ll do their best to respect your wishes. And if the worst happens, and you do end up with someone who eats Doritos (yours, no less) with their mouth open into the wee hours, there’s always the possibility of asking for a new roomie or a move.