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.
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
Most of the time, people will sacrifice a good roommate because they don't want to live in a triple, or will add an extra person because they think a triple room gives them more chances of having friends. While I recommend being open to people surprising you in a good way, it's important to go with your gut. If you find two people you connected with and think it'd be fun to room with them, then a triple room could be a great option. Who needs space when your roommates are dope, right?
Rule #4: Look for a roommate, not a best friend
Going off the previous rule, of course you want to be friends with your roommates. Especially if you're going to a school where you don't know anyone. Just keep in mind that you'll be spending tons of time with these people, not to mention, this time will be spent in a small space. While it's important to get along with them, look for friends outside of your room. This will give you a way out if you ever start getting cabin fever.
Rule #5: Keep an open mind. High school is over.
This might feel like an attack, especially if you're still grieving over how great your high school experience was. It's normal to try to find people who resemble your hometown friends. Just remember that college is a completely different game. Don't shy away from going out of your comfort zone, especially if you connect with someone you never thought you would. Some of my best roommates in life have been people I never thought I'd get along with.
Remember that a roommate, good or bad, is part of the college experience. Sometimes we end up with people who are not a great fit, but as a result, we end up learning so much about who we are and what we need in a roommate. Besides, for a lot of people college is the last time they'll ever share a room with a stranger, so why not be open for the adventure?