Finding The Perfect Roommate: A Guide


Gabi Dykema, Director of Public Relations

So, you’ve made it into college. The search for your future home has ended; the acceptance letters have been sifted through and college visits with your parents that seem to never end are over. Your parents’ endless inquiries have all been settled, and their fears have been put to rest by admissions counselors, but one question remains for you: who will you split your room with?

The search for a college roommate can be a daunting and terrifying task for many seniors, and there are a variety of methods that are used in order to find the perfect fit. After living with the same people for your entire lifetime of roughly 18 years, finding someone to start your new experience at college becomes especially difficult. Do you choose to room with a friend from high school? A person who you’ve met on the school’s Facebook page or a different app used for the same purpose? Or will you be one of the brave individuals who goes in “blind” with no prior knowledge of their roommate?

While choosing someone who you’ve known for a long time that you know is going to the same school as you next year may be tempting, I’ve found that it impedes on experiencing the true college experience of building new relationships and entering friend groups that would’ve otherwise been unknown to you or too nerve-racking to approach. Besides, just because you share similar interests with them doesn’t necessarily equate to them being a good match to share a living space with. Many people who choose roommates that they’ve known already tend to overlook the most important questions in this process. Do they like blasting music when studying and you like silence? Do they have a problem with personal space while you enjoy keeping boundaries? Or, possibly the most important question people overlook, ARE THEY MESSY OR CLEAN? If you’re a neat freak, or are a person that likes their space to be more “lived in,” splitting a room with someone who doesn’t share the same values as you can be extremely frustrating. I also understand how shy students can have trouble with choosing someone they don’t know, but without asking questions like these beforehand, you can seriously hinder your enjoyment with a problem that could’ve been easily remedied simply by asking them. Also, if you choose someone who you’re close with and you happen to not like rooming with them as much as you had planned, you could lose a friend; being able to spend a weekend together is different than a whole year living together, and you could lose a best friend if you two end up struggling to room together.

The most common way to choose a roommate is through the Facebook page that all incoming students attending that college will join. Sometimes there are other apps you can use to find roommates; some colleges even have their own questionnaire to help with your choice. All these sources use similar methods to locate a roomie for you. You post a short bio about yourself, and soon find yourself getting messages from other students who saw your post, or messaging other students who posted something like yours. If the person is from out of state or too far away to meet for coffee, your whole interaction could be through a screen and the first face-to-face meeting could be the first day of college. The problem with this? People can sometimes present themselves differently than they are in real life online; a funny bio they post could’ve taken them two hours to produce, and in person, they’re as stiff as a board and as entertaining as watching paint dry. For the most part, I find this method to be reliable, because you usually ask the important questions right off the bat instead of finding out the hard way once you’ve already moved in. However, I will say that a phone call, Facetime or coffee date should be done to make sure they don’t have any quirks you can’t stand.

Finally, for the method that many shy away from now: going in blind. If you ask most of our parents, this used to be the method of choice before electronics could aid in the decision. Another student is randomly selected, and you go into the experience with no prior knowledge of them. I would argue that this might be the method you can use to truly get the full college experience, because even by choosing via Facebook or another internet source, you’ll end up finding yourself with someone who you are very similar to. However, this also can be the most risky, because it’s either hit or miss getting along with them. As someone who did this once for a week-long overnight camp at MSU, I can say I was very fortunate to room with a girl who I got along with very well and am still friends with to this day, two years later. I don’t want to say that going in blind necessarily forces you to get along with this person, but it can definitely make you more open to making friends with someone you might not have otherwise and disprove judgements that you might’ve made about this person had you not gotten to know them better. A good example of going in blind and having it be very successful is my older brother and his current roommate. When his basketball coach first told him that he would be rooming with another incoming freshman player, my brother had some negative assumptions about not necessarily the other player, but about going in blind. He had been a reserved kid before his first year at college, and is anything but now. They’re now juniors and pay rent in an apartment they share with each other and several other students.

No matter what method you choose to find your roommate next year, make sure that it’s one you feel comfortable with. If you’re not super outgoing, don’t choose to go in blind, maybe opt for something slightly different than usual like finding someone online. In the end, the perfect roommate is a myth; you’re never going to find someone who never does anything that annoys you, or that you’ll get along perfectly with, because the truth is that we all have quirks that make us different than other people. Think about it this way – you and your family are bound to get into fights, even if you do get along, but you’ve found a way to deal with your differences enough to stick with them for 18 years. The trick is to find someone that has quirks you don’t mind as much. Worst case scenario, you switch roomies; best case scenario, you make a lifelong friend with whom you can share innumerable memories. Happy hunting!