The Solution to Finding the Right Roommate May Be Under That Pile of Clothes in Your Bedroom

By Sam Rosensohn

Now that you have found the right college, it’s time to focus on finding the right roommate.

The wrong roommate will be a dent in your 24/7 to say the least – so let’s review a few things to better assure that you don’t end up with the roommate from hell.

The housing application, which may be sandwiched under a pile of books and clothing in your bedroom, is one of the keys to finding the right roommate.

Make it your business to present yourself candidly in the housing application, which includes questions about your preferences and idiosyncrasies. Armed with honest answers housing will be better equipped to match you with someone with similar likes and dislikes.

While housing questions differ from school to school, according to the Princeton Review, most circle around the following areas:

Degree of Neatness: A difference of opinion on what’s tidy or not can lead to two sane people drawing a line down the middle of their living space. This is why the residential staff may ask whether your idea of a dresser is the floor or whether dust bunnies are an issue.

To Study or To Party:  If you need peace and quite to study, and have been used to relative peace and quiet for some 17 years, avoid the party student as a roomie. Seek the party animal when your eyes are falling out of your head from studying and you need a break. Make certain to let the residential staff know if you need eight hours of sleep a night; some kids don’t hit the hay until after sunup.

Cigarettes: You may be asked if you can live with a smoker. This ought to be real easy. If you don’t smoke and think you can live with a smoker, think again.

While small details such as musical preference, frequency of guests and personal hobbies may seem insignificant as you race through your last days of high school, they count for a lot. If you don’t like your music ear-pounding and angry, make that known before you arrive on campus.

Take a close look at the options you have for residence halls. Quite often a school will have special housing for honor students, foreign exchange students, students with disabilities, students interested in the arts or the sciences, students who prefer same-sex housing, or athletes.

Comfort always counts, but particularly so when you first leave home for college, so make certain to examine your living options carefully. You’ve come too far and worked too hard to end up with a roommate that’s not right for you. Freshman year will have lots of bumps and a good roommate will help to smooth some of those topsy-turvy days.

The faster you get your housing paperwork in, the faster your request can be processed. The quick response will increase your chances of getting what you request, since housing is generally assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

By the end of summer, you will receive your new address, telephone number and the name of your roommate. You will most likely receive a number where you can contact your roommate, and it’s a good idea to introduce yourself.

“Try not to anticipate the level of harmony you will achieve with your roommate,” the Princeton Review cautions. “Even if you don’t hit it off magnificently, don’t fret: the ideal roommate is often one with whom you do not spend every waking moment.

“Remember that it’s hard to adjust to living with anyone, so cut your roommate some slack. The point of being paired with a roommate freshman year is not to terrorize, but to encourage socialization. With this in mind try to consider this match as an adventure,” and the Princeton Review’s eight tips to success:

Tip # 1: Keep it Real: Provide honest answers for all surveys that the housing office asks you to complete. You’ve been accepted, be pleased, and let the school know who you really are. If the bottom of your closet looks like a hamper and you love talking on the cell ’till all hours of the morning, let housing know.

Tip # 2: Be Heard: Let you roommate know who you are. What you like, what you can tolerate, and what you won’t put up with. You’ll be able to get along better if your roommate knows from the getgo what doesn’t go for you. It also helps to let your roommate know when important dates are coming up – tests, papers, performances, games, and parents visiting for the day.

Tip # 3: Don’t Jump on Every Little Thing: Don’t tell your roommate about every one of her annoying habits. Hold off from passing judgment, particularly the first week of school. It takes most people a couple months to adjust to dorm life so try not to keep too tight a scorecard during the first few weeks. Different surroundings sometimes make kids behave in manners that even they don’t recognize.

Tip # 4: Plan Ahead: Decide the first week on how to handle the shared costs so you won’t bicker over the first phone bill or the food that has disappeared from the mini-fridge. Talk about borrowing clothes without asking; establishing boundaries is a smart thing to do.

Tip # 5: Company Policy: No you’re not being asked to run a business – friends over is what we’re addressing. Decide whether it’s acceptable to bring a boyfriend or girlfriend back to the dorm.

Tip #6: Do Unto Others: Whether you like your roommate or not, see if you two can agree to treat each other with the same consideration you both would like to be treated with. Sometimes if you set the example, the roommate gets the picture.

Tip # 7: Give a Little: Be prepared to compromise. Some historians say America’s greatest genius is her ability compromise. To avoid a civil war in your room try to be more understanding and give in on the little things. If you’re a neat freak, remember that your roommate may not be as offended by the mess as you are.

Tip # 8 No Fear: Most roommates find a way to get along. In the unlikely event that things don’t work out, you’ll most likely be able to make a switch.

And guys, don’t forget who got you there – your folks. The ones who set up your first crib – be sure to give them a call every few days, it’ll mean the world to them.

Sam Rosensohn is the founder of College Planning Partnerships, which offers prep classes for the SAT and helps students to prepare for college and write college essays. He can be reached in Clinton at 860-664-9857 or at