During high school, I heard several horror stories about college roommates; either they were polar opposites or they just got on each other’s nerves. I’d also heard stories of college roommates gone right. As an only child, I personally had been living in the comfort of my own room my whole life. My room could be as messy and loud or quiet and clean as I wanted whenever I wanted, and so the idea of having to share this space with someone else was something so, entirely new to me. The notion of getting a random roommate didn’t even cross my mind, since I was extremely preoccupied with the fear that I’d end up with a bad one. It seemed much more obvious and reasonable to choose one myself, but there are several consequences of choosing one that I, and many others, never would consider.
Senior year, I didn’t want to take the chance of going with a random selection roommate, as the stories I’d heard had scared me enough. I wanted a life-long friend out of a roommate, so I decided to join my college’s Facebook group and scout one out. Initially, it felt like the process was going surprisingly well. I’d spoken to a few people (strictly on Facebook chat, of course) and they all seemed like people I could live with—but before this, I had never before had the chance to figure out the pet peeves I had within the confines of my own room, something which wouldn’t be ‘my own’ anymore.
After some consideration, I finally locked myself in with a roommate who seemed to have the same sleep schedule, who watched the same television shows as I do, and who I just seemed to get along with. We’d met in person a couple times, and even the first time, it just clicked. Once we moved in together, though, it was quite a different story.
Although neither of us changed, we ran into a few problems. Some of my roommate’s habits bothered me, things that I never could have foreseen. For example, I sleep very lightly, but as I had no actual roommate at home, I never noticed. If I was asleep and my roommate was awake, it could be pretty unnerving when I was kept awake and became pretty inconvenient for the next day. I was also the type of person who had a method to her madness; my things may have seemed a little messy, but I always knew where they are. However, my roommate seemed to take this messiness as me not caring about where my stuff is, so if she needed something, she’d take it, use it, and not put it back where it came from. She was also pretty comfortable walking around in her underwear (which I totally agree is so much more comfortable) but it made me a bit uncomfortable.
Another small but common thing was that she would take phone calls in our room, whether I was just hanging out or intently studying; it takes a lot for me to concentrate, so this was also a bit of an annoyance. I’m not much of a confrontational person, so it was difficult to talk to my roommate about these things, especially because they’re so person-specific and aren’t addressed on the roommate agreement. Personally, I’m sure that I also had a few habits that got on her nerves as well. I loved her as a person, but we ran into quite a few problems that led us to (peacefully, but sadly anyway) move onto different roommates our sophomore year.
This was an unexpected turn of events for me. As I’d basically hand-picked my roommate, I didn’t at all expect to have to look for another one, or to even run into any problems in the first place, but I did. I went in with several expectations on how our life was going to be as roommates, most of which weren’t met. On the other hand, I actually know several people who went with a random roommate. Since they didn’t expect anything (they may even have expected the worst), I would say they were actually better off; a lot of them are still living with their first roommate.
My point is this—there are definitely perks to choosing a roommate beforehand. You definitely will end up with someone at least slightly similar to what you want in a roommate, but there are also many unforeseen challenges that might end up bothering you more now that you know the person. But there are also perks to random roommates; you still have the chance of ending up with someone you don’t work well with, but with your expectations lowered, you may well be surprised.