To all the 2018ers reading this, congratulations! Many of you are sending out the papers that will mark the end of the college application process, and that’s a great feeling… so what’s next? One project that many take up at this time is beginning to figure out rooming options for the coming year. Here are the questions you need to ask, and the pros and cons of the options.
What are my options?
While most colleges give a general sense of their housing options through info sessions and pamphlets, it’s hard to get the full picture. Find out how much choice you’ll have when it comes to dorms, and what different dorms have to offer. While some schools have designated freshmen dorms, there can be additional mixed-year dorms, language houses, or co-ops that are worth exploring. On the other hand, some schools have a well-established housing plan for freshmen, and so it’s good to know where your future school lies on the spectrum.
Should I Choose Single-Sex Housing?
Co-ed universities often have an all-girls housing option which can be either a section of a dorm or an entire building that is composed of all girl students. This can be very appealing for those not used to sharing most of their space with so many people. At schools with gender neutral bathrooms, all-girl housing might be a nice way to get some privacy. Single-sex housing often fosters an especially strong sense of community that is really helpful in the first year. Some cons include limiting the different types of people you get to meet, and sometimes a strong community leads to a fairly exclusive one that doesn’t help you branch out.
Should I Choose My Own Roommate?
Many schools now allow students to choose their own roommate in their housing application. If you gathered when visiting or researching your school that creating good roommate matches was not a strength of your institution’s housing committee, or if you’re concerned about being paired with a total stranger, this might be something to consider. I think this option must be considered very cautiously based on your school’s history with roommate matching, your ability to honestly assess yourself, your ability to ask a relative stranger fairly personal questions, and your willingness to put in the time to find the right roommate. Unless this sounds completely manageable, try just leaving it to the school. In my experience, universities have mastered the matching and should really be calling the shots for eHarmony. I have heard many more horror stories from people who chose their own roommates than people who have left it to the school, and while not every match results in a best friend, people usually make it through the year.
How do I Choose my Roommate?
If you think finding your own roommate is the right decision for you, then there are a few options. Most colleges have “Class of 20__” Facebook pages providing a very big pool to surf. Everyone has their methods, including Natalie, a current freshman in college: “I looked at the people most active on the site and went from there.” Larger universities may have separate pages designated for finding roommates as well. Still, other options are sites like Roomsurf, which have you fill out a profile for and the site will compile matches for you. It’s pretty similar to university housing systems, but it lets you look over the candidates as well. Of course it does require that other people attending your university join the site, and this may vary from school to school.
Once you have found a potential roommate, you have to be willing to ask awkward questions and also be awkwardly honest. It is important to let potential roommates know how neat you are, what hours you keep, and if you’re expecting visitors: “I told [my roommate] I had a boyfriend and that he would be visiting, and I asked her if she was seeing or might be seeing anyone,” admits Natalie. While these initial awkward conversations might be done best on Facebook, you should try to Skype once before deciding to make sure you are comfortable with each other.
Freshman housing and roommate-finding is a whole new journey. Take these considerations into mind, and good luck!