Without a doubt, the thing I was most excited about for college was having my own room, followed closely by who I’d be sharing it with. Your roommate is a crucial part of your college experience, so it’s no surprise that colleges have been working on ways to make that process a little more interactive and productive towards finding that perfect match.
CNET reports that more schools are letting students fill out personality questionnaires, and new software is using that information to connect potential roommate matches based on information they provide.
“They kind of have a say in who they live with,” Joe Lindwall of StarRez, the software provider that houses this new way of picking a roommate, told CNET. “They can filter based on different types of attributes.. .They can search and filter based on this criteria and really narrow it down to a pool of potential residents that they want to live with.”
The questions students answer are simple but crucial, such as how studious are you? When do you go to bed? Or even, do you like the window open or closed?
After answering these questions, students are given a few of their best matches, and can use social media and good old-fashioned conversation to decide the rest. And it’s working. Schools are reporting that room change requests are actually decreasing.
So let’s say it’s time for you to pick your roommate. What are the kind of things you should be looking for? As someone who is currently on her way out of college, here are my three most important things to keep in mind when you take the plunge:
1. How in-control of your own space do you like to be? This covers a lot of things. How messy are you? What music do you like to have on? What food are you allergic to? Now I want you to picture the person you live with going against one of these preferences. How uncomfortable does it make you? If you’re someone who can go with the flow, then having a roommate who doesn’t follow your exact routine can be just fine. But if country music makes you want to tear your hair out, and you pick a roommate who loves to blast it, then from the get-go you should be clear about the boundaries of your space.
2. What is going to be the main purpose of your room? Is it a place for you to unwind after a day of doing work, or does your studying go into the night with books strewn across your bed? You don’t want to keep your roommate up with your work, but you also don’t want them to use the room to throw a party when you’re just trying to watch Game of Thrones on your laptop in peace. Your work and social life is an important thing to be honest about, but if you both are on the same page, then the room will always be safe haven–whether that’s for revising Latin flashcards or watching Netflix.
3. What do you really want out of roommate? Are you looking for a bestie? Or someone who gives you more space to have your own separate social life? Either way, it’s important to remember this: Your freshman year roommate doesn’t have to be your roommate for life! Sometimes, one year is enough. No matter how well you get along with your roommate, there are bound to be little things that bother you. Sometimes, doing it all over again can cause those annoyances to be even more pronounced the next time around. Just be up front about it all. Not being roommates doesn’t mean you can’t continue to be friends, and, more often than not, giving your relationship space actually makes it stronger.
The most important part of this process is listening to that voice in your head, and being clear about what does and does not make you comfortable. Roommates can be your best friends, or just casual acquaintances. The hardest part is just getting to know each other. The cool thing is that now, with programs like StarRez, you can start that process earlier on and have more control when it comes to deciding who you want to live with. It’s about time we had that choice.