Graphic by Elena Hamlin
For seniors planning to attend college next fall, preparing for the next step can be stressful. Upperclassmen face several pertinent decisions, including where they want to go and what they want to study. However, answering those questions welcomes a series of others like what meal plan they want, which hall they want to stay in and who they want to room with.
While the last may seem like one trivial decision amidst all the others, your roommate will have a profound influence on your college experience. Studies show that roommates can impact your academic achievements, overall health and social attitude — called The Roommate Effect. For instance, for every full point your GPA may increase, your roommate’s will increase on average by 0.11. Moreover, if you have a roommate who frequently drinks alcohol or plays an unhealthy amount of video games, you’ll likely engage in similar behavior. There are a variety of things you should consider when finding a roommate:
1. Their beliefs
Although this isn’t something you should begin a conversation with when seeking out a roommate, you should consider inquiring about their core beliefs since they’ll envelop a majority of their attitudes toward school, relationships and their future. Ensuring that your roommate holds similar political and religious beliefs to yours might decrease the likelihood of conflict. While surrounding yourself with people who hold different beliefs and opinions may help broaden your own, it may be best to find a like-minded person if you plan to sleep mere feet away from each other.
2. Hall preference
Even though this topic may seem obvious, it can be easy to overlook. If you begin talking with someone and find you like them, it may be discouraging to discover they want to stay in a different residence hall. So if you don’t know how to begin a conversation with them, asking which hall they plan to stay in may be a great place to start.
3. Current living habits
Be sure to keep in mind that you and your roommate may not get along if you prefer a neat, tidy space and they disperse their clothing and food wrappers throughout the room. By asking a potential roommate specific questions about how they keep their room now, you might prevent winding up with a partner who takes a completely different approach to cleaning — or not cleaning at all.
4. Sense of humor
If you rely on comedians like Ron White for a good laugh, odds are you’ll clash with someone who opts for Bill Murray or Mitch Hedburg. It’s simple science. When you meet people who have a similar sense of humor, you’re more likely to be compatible with them. Ideally, your roommate will be someone who you can laugh with, as those belly-aching moments will allow you to bond. More so, if you have a similar sense of humor, it may help facilitate conversation and avoid polite laughter in the future.
5. How they plan to spend their time
Even if you think you and your roommate could be the perfect fit, there’s still one major thing to consider, which is discussing with every potential roommate how you plan to spend your time. While it may seem like an awkward conversation piece, asking if they intend on coming back to the dorm at 2 a.m., for example, or prefer to go to bed earlier may serve as a preventative measure to waking up at odd hours of the night. Other questions such as how they plan to balance their time with studying and hanging out with friends or if they anticipate returning home on the weekend are also important in gaining an understanding of what it would be like to room with them.
Although this task may feel daunting, at the end of the day you’ll feel grateful for having taken the time to find the right roommate for you. According to a study by Skyfactor in 2016, those with a roommate reported experiencing higher institutional satisfaction and commitment in addition to less feelings of homesickness. However, if finding a roommate sounds like too much work, then you can always opt for a random one. No matter what you choose, your roommate will surely make your time in college worthwhile.
Once you find a potential roommate, the next step is to start a conversation. This can be an intimidating experience, but with the right words, you’ll be on track to discussing room decor and sleep schedules. Here are a few tips: