The Roommate and You, Part 1: Roomie Wanted!

14 05 2009
roommateChances are, you know someone who has been to college. Chances are, they had a roommate at some point. And, chances are, you’ve heard all about that roommate – the horror stories, the off-the-wall moments, and the frustration – and it’s enough to make you worry about you own inevitable rooming situation. Well, fear no more: while getting your first roommate can seem daunting, you can avoid all the drama with a little planning. In part 1 of 3, we will tackle how to find the best roomie possible by using some tools you probably already have. Click to read on…

The Bare Bones. Some people like surprises. Some people like to go in blind on big decisions – like a roommate – and some people are just lazy. Some people like to fill out the housing form and hope for the best, and then again, some people like to be knee-deep in personality conflicts by Thanksgiving Break.  You see, even though many colleges now offer a “roommate match,” these tend to be comprised of simple, short questions that only attempt to examine the basics of a personality. If you think that you can find a suitable roomie by classifying yourself as a “night owl,” then congratulations – you’re set for next year.

  • Side note: Are you tempted to put down your best friend from high school as your roommate? While there are pros and cons to this, most people will tell you that if you want to stay friends, then stay away from rooming. Plus, a good roommate is basically a guaranteed friend – why do yourself a social disservice?

Going Further. So, we determined that we want more than the bare minimum, did we? To do that, we’re going to have to dig a little deeper into our resources. There’s a very simple, very effective way to go about this, and it’s something you probably already have: Facebook. Little known fact: Facebook was actually created as a way for college students to find a roommate or fellow classmate easily. Nowadays, its use has become less university-specific, but it can still provide a great way to find people, and the best part is that you can do this long before you turn in a housing application (I started looking right when I decided on my school – before I even sent in my deposit!) How?

  1. Log in (or sign up, if you’re really behind), and go to the search bar at the top of the page. Type in the name of your school, and preferably a year (ie: University of Pittsburgh 2013). Filter your results by “groups” if you want.
  2. Find the group you want. There may be multiple; I suggest signing up for the largest one, but signing up for all of them can’t hurt. There may also be major-specific groups (“University of Pittsburgh 2013 Premeds!”) Be sure to check beyond the first page of results; my group was on the second page.
  3. Join, go to the discussion board, and look for a roommate survey of some sort.

There you go! Now all you have to do is fill out the (much more extensive) questionnaire. Let your personality shine. You’ll probably find the usual fare of “night or morning person?” and “drinker?” but the form will probably go on to ask other things that you never thought were important, like “music volume,” “what do you consider clean,” and “share big/small items?”

Important Note: Many of these surveys ask you what your “preferred housing dorm” is. This is a big deal for a lot of people, so be sure to have at least a top choice to list, or just say you’re “open to whatever.”

Give It A Once Over. You may be tempted to sit back and wait for someone to message you, but that’s not very productive, is it? Get ahead of the competition and peruse the previous pages of the survey discussion – you may see someone like you. If you do, send them a private message (it makes it easy to “shop around,” which I’ll discuss more in a minute.) The message should be casual, and allow for a conversation to strike up. An example might be

“Hey! I saw your post in the roommate forum, and  you seem pretty cool. I noticed you like ___; I love them too! Are you excited for their new CD? I can’t wait. Also, I think it’s great that you aren’t really into the whole drinking scene – it’s really hard to find anyone else who doesn’t do that in college. Anyway, I noticed we have some stuff in common, and if you’re still looking for a roommate, we should talk! See you next year!”

Notice that I didn’t say right out that I think we should be roommates – just that we have a lot in common, and I’m interested. This keeps the tone relaxed, not desperate.

Shopping Around. So, you mailed one person so far, but maybe when you were looking you saw someone else. Nothing wrong with that! But here’s why I told you to PM a prospective – since replies are in Facebook groups are public, don’t make the tacky mistake of replying to three or four people with a stock message where all four people can see it. Instead, send a separate, and preferably different, PM to each one. Just remember: when you pick someone, you’ll have to turn down multiple other people. This can seem a little rude, especially if you waited until the last moment to search, so this is why it’s important not to sound too definite in your PM.

Making It Official. Finally – after a few rounds of messages, you found someone you get along with, you talked to them, and you guys decided it’d be totally rad to room. To make it official to the college, you’ll probably need some sort of information from the other person (an ID number, their name, an email address). Find out what this is and get it from them, then turn it in however you need to – your housing application probably has a place for it.

Last Minute Player? It’s OK – even if you’ve turned in your housing form/deposit, most colleges will accept a roommate addition to an application. Just call them up with the aforementioned necessary information, and ask if you can select a roommate anyway. More than likely, you’ll get the go ahead.

Coming soon: The Roommate and You, Part 2 – Movin’ Time.




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