HomeCollege ApplicationsMy Roommate is a Perfect Stranger

Dear Estelle, Is it true that college roommates are picked like in a lottery? Aside from gender and smoking preferences, from what I’ve heard, all the names are put into a big box or scrambled on a computer and roommates are selected by drawing names from the box or matched by the computer. You are then matched with the person who will be your roommate for the next four years?  – JS, “Rising” College Freshman, Englewood

Several months ago, you should have received a housing application package with a checklist, which included many questions about your rooming preferences. Among the possible questions were the following common areas of interest: degree of neatness, party animal, sleeping hours, number of guests in room, mode of studying (room or library), musical preferences, choice of residential hall (coed or single sex, sports, art, language, etc.), smoker/nonsmoker. At that time, you should have filled out the form honestly and returned it promptly to the residence hall office. The earlier you sent it in the better chance you will have of getting the roommate with characteristics, which match yours.

It is in the school’s interest to have your roommate relationship be a successful one. Research on roommate compatibility indicates that satisfactory roommate selection results in happier students and substantially higher quality academic work. Happy students will be less likely to drop out of college.

Within the next few weeks you will receive detailed information about your new roommate. Contact him/her and discuss some practical matters such as who’s bringing the small fridge and the mini stereo. Get to know one another a little. This will help accelerate your relationship once you actually meet.

Several schools have students match themselves with roommates during an orientation week held just prior to the start of school. Through mutual interest in activities and conversation, people can identify students with whom they have a good fit.

After having a room of your own and being doted upon by your parents, it’s best not to be overly concerned about your roommate. Consider it an adventure in socialization. There is a good possibility you will accommodate well to one another. Nothing is 100% foolproof, however. If after a semester you find you are incompatible you can talk to the resident hall advisor about switching.

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