You may bemoan the random roommate assignment that comes with your first year in college (“She actually makes Tipsy Tuesdays a thing!” “He wears my socks!” “I don’t think she’s showered since we got here!”) but there’s a benefit to the process you probably won’t appreciate till you’re almost a sophomore. Fate, luck, chance, apathetic housing administrators—whomever you assign blame to, at least you don’t have the responsibility of picking out a living partner. The second year, it all comes down to you.
There are two ways you can go about the process, each with their own pros and cons.
Option 1: You ask a friend
At my school, this is the most popular method—and in theory, it should have a 100% success rate. After all, you already know you like them, they like you, and life is good. However, living with someone has a nasty habit of ruining your friendship. A girl I know who roomed with her best friend from high school quickly discovered that her friend’s habit of treating the floor like her closet, while funny when they lived at home, wasn’t so entertaining when she had to carefully navigate over lurking high heel spikes and vicious zipper teeth just to get to her bed. One too many heel injuries later, and they no longer speak… even though they still share the same room. This is what awkward is made of, folks.
On the other hand, if you and your roommate of choice have similar lifestyles (like, down to sleeping with the windows open versus sleeping with the windows closed) give it a shot! If your relationship survives, you’ll be closer than ever before.
How: The topic may come up organically: “I can’t wait to move off-campus next year.” “Same here! Can you say candles and pet kittens?” “Oh my lanta, can we live together and buy a cat and name it Chester?!?” But life isn’t usually so easy. I’d suggest casually asking if they know what their living situation for next year will be yet. If they answer no, say, “Me neither! We should be roommates.” If they’ve already arranged something… well, at least you’ll always have Chester.
Option 2: Find someone you don’t know
Although this is a somewhat scary prospect, it has a lot of benefits. It’s like you’re at a roommate buffet—I’ll take an entrée of clean and not too noisy—or nosy—with a side of responsible. And pass on “lets people sleep in my bed” dessert. Thanks. (We’ll get to how you do this in a second.) Not only can you hunt down someone with the values you most, uh, value, but you won’t feel obligated to be their BFFL. Sometimes you just want to come home, put on your headphones, watch Downton Abbey, and NOT talk about your day, you know?!? Plus, it can be difficult to discuss breaches in roommate etiquette with someone you were friends with beforehand. Ashley might not be so down to grab ice cream after you politely but firmly tell her that her boyfriend Brett can’t sleep over when she’s not there. (If you wanted to live with Brett, you’d live with Brett.) Comparatively, if Ashley is just your roomie and not your friend, it won’t be so difficult to kick Brett out on his butt.
How To: How dost thou find a stranger to live with? Oh let me count the ways. 1. Go through people you do know; ask them if they know anyone who’s looking for a roommate. 2. Use your school’s Facebook page. 3. Use Craigslist. 4. If you’re understandably wary of Craigslist, try a site specifically geared towards pairing roommates, like RoomSurf or Uloop.
Although picking out a roommate is a difficult, stressful task, I’d like to leave you with some words of comfort. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you make the wrong choice—they kill you in your sleep? Actually, that’s pretty bad. You should definitely read this article a couple of times to make sure you’re as possible to find a good roommate.