For many incoming freshman, the 2014-2015 school year will be the first time they are living in such close quarters with another human being. If you fall into a lucky (or unlucky, depending on your preference) minority, you may even live with more than one human being in close quarters. Yes, my Eaglets, I’m speaking, of course, about living with a roommate! However, before you live with them, you’re going to have to pick them (or not).
From the very beginning of the roommate experience, it feels like a convoluted courtship of sorts. I find this to be especially true in the highly anticipated roommate selection process. You know exactly what I’m talking about: boy joins Facebook group. Boy sees other boy post funny comment. Boy (only lightly, otherwise it would be weird, bro) Facebook stalks other boy. Boy works up courage to message other boy. Boy talks to other boy for a few days. Boy finds roommate.
Alternatively: boy joins Facebook group. Boy sees other boy post funny comment. Boy (only lightly, otherwise it would be weird, bro) Facebook stalks other boy. Boy works up courage to message other boy. Other boy never responds to Facebook message. Boy is crushed. Boy goes random.
Now, I won’t disclose which of these versions of Boy Meets Roommate happened to me, but I will say that finding a roommate via the Internet (Facebook, ResLife, etc.) and going random both have their advantages and disadvantages. The list includes, but is not limited to, these crucial points.
Picking Your Own Roommate
- Someone to talk to: You can feel confident that because you’ve communicated with the other person at least a few times, they are someone you can carry a conversation with. There may be no problems when it comes to roommate communication because you already have a basis to start from before you even move in.
- No blindsiding: You have a previous knowledge, straight from the horses’ mouth, about their sleep patterns, affinity (or lack thereof) for cleanliness, and any other habits that they may partake in on the weekends or in the dorm. You may know, for example, that they sleep late, only drink on weekends, and study in the library. It’s all about learning each other’s tendencies so you know what to expect.
Misguided by technology: Online communication can be misleading; it’s a fact of our age that what you see may not always be what you get. You may have been able to talk online, but it may not be that easy in person. Communication is crucial when living with a roommate so if the parties involved cannot/are not willing to do so, the relationship will suffer.
- False advertising: This is probably the worst possible thing that could happen when picking your roommate. If there is a make-or-break disparity in what the other person told you about their habits (e.g. drinking, studying, sleeping, etc.) then you are in for an unpleasant experience. I’ve seen many a relationship crumble because people were not honest with their potential roommates, or worse, themselves, during the initial period of contact via Facebook message.
When you “pick someone,” as finding a roommate online is called, you are still taking a chance. The risk of the relationship going awry may seem reduced but you should still be wary on move-in day. Moving on:
- Broadening your horizons: College is a time of discovery and wonder. Often, this comes in the form of new activities or commitments, but can also be found in the people you choose to surround yourself with. You may find that your random roommate is someone completely different from you who you still get along with. Acceptance is a lesson you’ll hopefully learn in college anyway, but being paired with someone who gives you a fresh perspective on life, music, art, or in my case, all of the above, can be an extremely rewarding experience.
- Lack of accountability: This one seems backwards but many times, when picked roommate situations don’t work out, people feel inclined to blame themselves for ever picking the person. Whether or not it’s your fault is irrelevant: you will feel bad. Going random eliminates the possibility of this minor self-loathing and allows you to blame the Housing Gods for your woes (but ohhh you just wait until sophomore housing at the end of the year).
- Not broadening your horizons: The double-edged sword of meeting new people is falling in with the wrong crowd. I don’t necessarily mean this in the after school special, just-say-no way (though you should never feel pressured by your roommate or any other new people you may meet) but more in the way that you should not tie yourself down to your roommate. Never try to force a relationship that isn’t there. Don’t socially confine yourself to someone that you were randomly paired with who wouldn’t normally be your friend, especially if they don’t want it.
- No say in the matter: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you get stuck with an awful roommate then you’ll find yourself wondering why you never tried to woo someone via the class Facebook group.
The prospect of living with a roommate may be daunting, especially at first. Whether you pick the person or not, you are going to be in for an extremely eventful process. For many, this will be an incredibly brand-new experience. Boarding school kids aside, you’ve probably never lived with so few people. Not only that, but the boundaries of your living space will be tight. You will be up close and personal with people that you may or may not like; it’s all about the luck of the draw. Forrest Gump’s mama said it best: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Whether you hate the person you picked, love the person you didn’t, or anywhere in between, remember that this living situation only lasts a year. After that one year the housing lottery takes over and you won’t care if you have to live with a rabid wolf so long as you get the elusive eight-man.
But that’s a whole other story.