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How to Pick a College Roommate without Meeting Them in Person

It's that time of the year, and if you've ever been victimized by your university's rooming platform, then this is for you.

Three college girls sitting in a couch wearing pajamas and eating chips in their dorm. Yara Shahidi and Chloe x Halle.

I'm not going to sugar coat it. Finding a roommate for freshman year (or any year) is stressful. In my situation, I was expecting for somebody perfect. I wanted a roommate that didn't go to bed late, but would be fine with me doing so. A roommate that would not spend the entire time in our room, but would know exactly when I wanted to hang out. A roommate who could basically read my mind and not be annoying.

If this sounds familiar, then I need to give you a reality check before we move forward. While you do need to look for a person that matches your lifestyle, it's important you know going in that there's no thing such as a perfect roommate. However, what does exist is a good fit.

Rule #1: Don't fall for pictures

Roommate apps are like dating apps: we put our best foot forward when it comes to photos. I encourage you to be genuine and use a photo that represents who you are. But don't expect everyone to do the same. Not because someone looks normal in their profile picture, it means they are. Do more digging in their socials (responsibly, ofc) to get a sense of the person before digging into it first. This is in no way an invitation to judge someone on their looks, but through social media you can find if a person is interested in things that you are interested in.

Rule #2: Don't fully believe their "This or That" Answers

Most of these apps make you fill out a "this or that" questionnaire in the signing up process. For example, they will ask you if you are an early bird or a night owl; if you prefer quiet or noise; if you're a big partier or a stay-in kind of person. The issue with this is that most of the time people answer this thinking about the person they want, not the person they are. So, when the questionnaire asks if you go to bed early, a lot of night owls will say yes because they prefer someone that will sleep early when they want to sleep early. It's a good way to get a sense for a person, but believe 50% of what everyone puts there. We're all trying to project the best version of ourselves.

Rule #3: Who you live with matters more than where you live