So you have decided on a school and you are ready to start thinking about the year ahead. If you are planning on living on campus you are probably thinking about your roommate situation. Going with a random roommate assigned by Student Life and Learning is always an option, as is choosing a roommate based on information from a variety of different outlets. Some people will tell you to choose a roommate to avoid a horror story, but some will tell you that you do not know a person well enough before college and that going random is a better option. It depends on your personal preferences which you go with, but if you are going to choose a roommate there are some important things to look for.
When I was a senior in high school I decided that I wanted to look for a roommate who I thought I would get along with well. I am now a senior in college and am living with the same person who I requested on Grove City College’s roommate finder four years ago – we are incredibly close and love sharing a room with one another! In the spring of our senior year of high school, we connected via our class’s Facebook page and got to know one another over text messages and the Grove City College Roommate Finder application.
As you are getting to know a potential roommate, it is important to dig deeper than small talk and hobbies and get to know one another’s living preferences and styles. Here are the top five things to find out about a potential roommate:
1. Personality Type
By personality type, I am referring to your levels of particularity and speed of life. Going into college I knew that I needed to find an easy-going roommate who would not grow frustrated with my Type A personality and constant need to do something. I also knew that I would not live well with someone who was equally as particular as me. This has nothing to do with extroversion or introversion, and each pairing will be different – while I needed a Type B roommate, somebody else with a similar personality to myself may work best with another similar roommate. It all comes down to knowing yourself and knowing who you work best with – if you tend to clash with a certain kind of personality, that is not the kind of personality you should choose to live with.
You can learn this about a potential roommate by directly asking how they view themselves (though people will be varying levels of self-aware) and through everyday conversations as you get to know one another. For this reason it cannot hurt to start the process early – even if you do not find a roommate, you could find a great friend!
2. Cleanliness and Clutter
Do you expect that your beds are made, prefer that they are made, prefer that they are not made, or have no preference? Do you expect dirty laundry to be out of sight, is it okay for laundry to be in a basket but visible, or is it okay for laundry to be in a pile on the floor? Do you care if the room is vacuumed? Do you expect to share vacuuming duties with your roommate, or are you okay with doing it yourself?
These are just some of the things to think about in regard to cleanliness and clutter in the room. There are so many different ways to address cleanliness in a dorm room, and it is difficult to foresee all of the possibilities before arriving on campus, but you can think about it with potential future roommates by discussing dorm room clutter and cleanliness in general.
3. Room Temperature Preferences
While you do not have control of the thermostat in your dorm room, you can impact the temperature in your room by opening or closing the windows and using a fan. I tend to run warm on a day to day basis, so I definitely prefer the room to be cooler, and so I needed to find a roommate who did not prefer a toasty room. This one is simple enough to find out – just ask!
4. Sleep Schedules
While working out sleep schedules is hugely important to a college roommate relationship, it is difficult to accurately predict what your sleep will be like at college until you arrive. Definitely talk through what time you prefer to go to sleep and wake up with a potential roommate, but the best advice I can give you here is to give one another grace in this area. When you decide to live together you may both think that going to sleep at 11 p.m. and waking up around 7 a.m. sounds great, but after arriving at college it is very possible that one of you will change that schedule.
Are you okay with having guests in the room? Can friends be over at any time, or is there a “friend curfew”? There are lots of ways to address this, and it is another one that is difficult to know before arriving on campus, but it is important that it be an open discussion. Unless you are a very deep sleeper, I highly recommend setting the boundary that friends not be over when either roommate is sleeping, but aside from that different roommates will have different preferences in this category. One thing in this realm that you will not have to work through as much as in other schools is that guests of the opposite gender are only allowed in your room at certain, set hours called Open Hours. While it may be frustrating for your roommate to have his/her significant other over every time there are Open Hours, you will not have to worry about them sleeping over in the room or being over every day.
Your Roommate Relationship
These are just scratching the surface of what plays an important part in the roommate relationship, but they are things to discuss before agreeing to live someone – especially someone who you have not met in person yet. No matter what, just remember to give one another grace to grow and change, and you will be okay. Do not be afraid to have direct conversations about the way you live together, and try to keep it an open conversation in order to avoid difficult confrontations or passive aggressive situations that can be even worse. Roommates can become some of your best friends, but it is okay if you are not incredibly close.