A quick scan on the topic of “college roommates” on Google yields a ton of different websites and blogs with topics ranging from top ten tip lists, to terrible roommate stories. It’s a topic of major concern, especially for incoming freshman nervous about who awaits them come move in day. However, a lot of the anxiety is relieved when a good roommate is found. While many hear about the horror stories, the reality is that most roommate relationships go pretty well because both parties involved want the same thing; peaceful co-habitation.

Knowns versus Unknowns

In college there are usually two different roommate scenarios involving two different environments.

  • Dorm on campus with a randomly selected roommate through residence life: This is the most common experience for incoming freshman, so relax. It’s like a lottery, but surprises are not necessarily a bad thing is this situation. Pros include getting to make a new friend, cons include rolling the dice and getting a roommate you would rather not have.

  • Dorm on campus with a preselected friend: Many students fall back on old reliable friends or at least acquaintances if they happen to be attending the same school. Pros include predictability, but cons include the potential that you may no longer like your friend as much once you start living with them, and the opportunity cost of not having a new person in your circle of college friends.

  • Living off-campus and privately search for a roommate: If you have the chance to live off campus, you will be connecting with potential roommates that may be attending different schools, or maybe are not even in college. Pros again include expanding your social circle, but cons are there is a bigger wild card for what roommate you will find.

  • Living off-campus with a preselected friend: Living off campus with a friend is very common when the opportunity arises. Pros include a more reliable person to share rent and responsibilities with, but cons are like whats already mentioned; A smaller social circle and the chance that living with your friend ends up ruining the friendship.

While finding a reliable friend to live with in college may provide stability, finding and living with new people has unique rewards that can make the search very worth it. After all, a lot of the college experience is about meeting new and different people, and learning to live together happily. Remember, this is only a temporary living arrangement while attending school, not a lifetime commitment. If you cannot get over the nervousness or fears associated with the unknown, you may have difficulty dealing with college all together. Sometimes it’s better to just go with it and find out. Finding a college roommate is an adventure worth undertaking.

In order to help mitigate risks and maximize the experience, many potential roommates are turning to social media to pre-screen roommates before even showing up on campus.

Facebook is of course the go to avenue for looking up roommates. As soon as a random roommate is assigned, soon to be freshman hit FB to locate their roommates profile to check them out. This approach can be good, but also very superficial. Judging a roommate solely on their social media profile can provide a distorted image of who the person really is, so avoid being too judgmental. At the same time, if you have asthma, and you find out they are a heavy smoker, this may be an opportunity to request a change with the school. Think of the Facebook profile as a birds eye general view. As long as most things are looking normal, you have a decent enough scouting report to make a decision.

If you are looking for a room mate off-campus, there are new companies designed to connect potential space sharers through the internet. Company’s like Roomsurf, Easyroommate and Campusroommate all offer online services to connect you to the person you are looking for. They offer convenience online that can make the search much easier.

Important attributes you need to be a good roommate, and what you should expect from your fellow roommate

  • Reliable: Can you do what you say, and say what you do? Will you make sure to handle the rent payment first before spending on parties? Can chores like dishes and housecleaning be handled reliably, or is the place going to turn into a mess? Being reliable means coming though month in and month out on responsibilities associated with sharing space.

  • Communication skills: This is a very under-rated category for college roommates simply because of lack of experience. Good communication between roommates is extremely important but very hard to deal with, especially for students that do not have experience living with brothers and sisters. Good communication should begin with addressing issues up front and early to establish expectations of behavior. Again, things like garbage removal, bathroom management and dirty laundry need to be resolved early so that they do not explode into bad situations later. Party etiquette, bringing over other friends, and private time for girlfriends/boyfriends needs to be discussed before hand to make a smoother living experience. It all starts with basic conversations early on.

  • Trust: It should almost go without saying that the person you are living with must be able to be trusted. If you have to worry about personal items being stolen, it makes it impossible to live together. You must always respect other people’s belongings as well.

  • Being friendly is not necessarily “BFF” status: Being able to share some common interests or hobbies is a good start, but even roommates with nothing in common can successfully co-habitate as long as they are cool, relaxed and considerate. Being agreeable without being a pushover is a good start. Good roommates are not always best friends, but they share a modicum of respect that makes it easy to live together.

Please note that the information provided on this website is provided on a general basis and may not apply to your own specific individual needs, goals, financial position, experience, etc. LendKey does not guarantee that the information provided on any third-party website that LendKey offers a hyperlink to is up-to-date and accurate at the time you access it, and LendKey does not guarantee that information provided on such external websites (and this website) is best-suited for your particular circumstances. Therefore, you may want to consult with an expert (financial adviser, school financial aid office, etc.) before making financial decisions that may be discussed on this website.