The school year is rapidly approaching, and for some of us, it is already here. One of the most exciting (and anxiety-ridden) times of my senior year was looking for my future freshman-year roommate. I have used just about every social media outlet to search for the “perfect” roommate such as Facebook, Twitter, RoomSurf, and one that was provided by my school. I’ve talked to dozens of girls and even gave my social media a makeover to portray myself as a fun, friendly, and outgoing person.
Your roommate and the relationship you have with her can really impact your school year. My freshman year roommate and I were friends but we weren’t as close as I thought we would be. This put a damper on my first year. However, my sophomore year roommate and I became best friends, and it made my school year experience entirely different.
Roommate hunting is like online dating; you have to know which questions to ask in order to see if you have potential to be a perfect match!
1. Hobbies and Interests.
No matter how much your sleep and study patterns are in sync, you won’t have a great roommate experience unless you connect on some level. This includes shared hobbies and interests. Having something in common with your roommate can make you both more comfortable with getting to know each other on a deeper level and a great friendship could grow out of your roommate-ship. You don’t have to agree on everything, but it is 10x better to be friends with your roommate than acquaintances.
2. Sharing- bringing to the room, sharing snacks, clothes, etc.
This is something that could be easily overlooked. You may think that if your roommate doesn’t like to share but you share everything from food to clothes, you could just ignore it. However, over time this may cause issues. So ask your future roommate what her views are on sharing. It is important to have an idea of your relationship dynamics so you don’t have unrealistic expectations. If a potential roommate has a no-share policy but you envisioned a roommate relationship where you share clothes and shoes, that potential roommate is not the right fit. My last two roommates had no problem sharing their clothes, snacks, and beauty products, and neither did I. This allowed a harmonious living situation for everyone.
This is a big one and one that you need to be sure you are honest about too! Cleanliness is a tricky topic to ask about (no one wants to admit to being a slob!). However, I find that it is possible to get an answer to this question without blatantly asking if someone is a slob. You could ask your potential or future roommate how they like the room, how often to they plan to clean, and explain how you are as far as cleanliness. A neat freak living with a slob could cause resentment and future problems. However, you also need to make sure you are flexible about your roommate’s cleanliness. If you are a neat freak, you may need to be able to compromise with a roommate who sometimes has clutter. People want the experience of living on their own and having independence- no one wants a roommate that acts like their mother.
4. Social Life- going out, significant others, friends in the room.
Are you a homebody that prefers to spend most weekends watching movies and eating pizza with your girlfriends or are you a social butterfly that would prefer to spend your weekends out on the town? Are you in a serious relationship? Do you plan to have your friends in the room a lot and if so, for how long? How often do you plan on sleeping in the room?
These are good questions to ask yourself as well as your roommate. The answers will give you a good idea of how the dynamic of your friendship will be. If your roommate plans to have her friends or boyfriend in the room every night until the sun comes up, but you would rather have some alone time, you will need to let her know. If you are in a relationship and plan to sleep at your significant other’s 3 nights during the week, let your roommate know. If you envisioned yourself and your future roommate getting ready for fraternity parties every weekend, but your new roommate is a homebody, you will need to understand that your fantasy may be just that- a fantasy. Don’t get upset if your roommate’s social preferences differ from yours. She could show you how fun it is to have a girls night in, just as you could teach her how fun it is to have a girls night out!
5. Study and Sleep Habits
Be sure to ask your roommate when they prefer to study and get work done during the day or at night, what time they go to sleep and wake up, and how deep of a sleeper they are. If you are a night owl that sleeps until noon it is important to know if your roommate’s personal motto is “early to bed, early to rise.” If you spend the night studying and your bedtime is 2 AM, but your roommate prefers to go to bed at 11 and study at 9 AM, things may get difficult. To top it off, if your roommate also happens to be a light sleeper, you may be stuck studying in the dorm lounges every night. For the first few weeks it could be no big deal to tip-toe around your sleeping roommate but eventually, changing your lifestyle could get aggravating.
All types of relationships take work, whether it is romantic relationships, friendships, and familial relationships. This includes your roommate relationship. Living with someone is a lot of work and chances are you and your future roommate will not be compatible in every category. However, even if you and your roommate do not agree on everything, it is important that you lay everything out and agree to compromise. Don’t get upset if your ideal roommate relationship does not become a reality, you could still have a great relationship with your roommate and it be a wonderful experience!