Column: a guide to choosing a college roommate


As the end of the year approaches, some of us seniors have important decisions to make regarding college. Perhaps one of the most stressful items on that list is choosing a roommate. We are going to break down some of the most common “roommate types,” what we think about each of them and hopefully ease some stress.

The Influencer

You may start your search for a roommate with the common approach: looking through the “class bios” pages on social media. You direct message (DM) a few people and start to weed out who doesn’t match your vibe. However, it seems like every single person is the same. They all love to party, but also stay in. They always have to have a clean room, but they don’t mind a mess! They want to live in this dorm, but are open to anything! As you carefully craft a DM that makes you sound like the ideal roommate, you quickly realize that everyone else is doing the exact same. 

I want to preface that this isn’t the worst way to choose a roommate. By asking the right questions you can find someone who is easy to live with – there’s even a chance you might end up becoming best friends. If you use this strategy, though,  have an idea of what you are looking for in a roommate first – are you looking for a friend or someone who is just easy to live with? 

Some questions to ask a potential roommate: 

  • What do you like to do? 
  • How social are you? 
  • What’s your current friend group like? 
  • What are you majoring in? 
  • What time do you usually go to bed? 


Short answer: just don’t.

Rooming with your high school best friend is another common approach. Oftentimes, the anticipated changes of college life are too much for our psyche to bear so we crave something familiar. A sense of comfort can be found in our life-long BFF, given they will be attending the same university. 

Let me set the scene. This is your best friend in the entire world. For the past four years (or more) you have spent every waking moment together. Whether it was studying late for finals, Friday night football games or simply making cookies at sleepovers – it has been the two of you. A happy coincidence leaves both of you attending the same college, and even better, rooming together. The next four years will surely be the best of your life. Right? Wrong. Reality hits as week one arrives and the realization that those blissful sleepovers are not an accurate reflection of living in a 250-square-foot dorm. Maybe your friend is a downright slob. Toothpaste in the sink, banana peels on the counter and an un-made bed every morning. Maybe they come stomping through the doors at ungodly hours, constantly tagging along with you everywhere, seemingly unable to make new friends. 

All in all, it is never a good idea to room with your best friend, especially freshman year. If you find your separation becomes too much to bear, just get an apartment together the next year. Let yourself grow on your own first. Stay away from this all-too-comforting safety net and avoid the possibility of a friendship-ending conversation about how their snoring is unbearable. 

Your Mother’s Friend’s Son

This situation is very similar to rooming with your BFF, but at times, can actually be worse. While a conversation with your best friend about unfavorable living habits could end terribly, there is more pressure when the friend is a mutual one. What about the person in the middle? I recently had a friend of mine approach me about being roommates with her twin sister. Initially, I thought this was perfect. I would room with someone I don’t know but was a trusted sibling of a close friend. What I quickly realized was that this could never be a clean getaway. Say I absolutely hated her, can’t even stand to be in the same room with her, but what about my mutual friend? Theoretically, I cut ties with her sister, how could our friendship continue on? The problem of rooming with your mom’s best friend’s son is that the pressure for it to work is worsened by the inclusion of middlemen that you both deeply care about. 

Random roommate gone wrong

Random roommates don’t allow you to weed through any personalities that you know you wouldn’t get along with- which, in my opinion, isn’t the ideal strategy of picking a roommate. In the case where a school forces you to have a random roommate, I think it works out better because there is a lack of pressure because both people go into the situation without the expectation of being best friends. However there is a risk factor to this idea, so just remember to stay safe. 

From the Town Over

Personally, I think this is the best approach. I call it the “no strings attached” method. The roommate “from the town over” is someone you don’t know or someone you have only heard of. They’re free from mutual friends but close enough to relatively judge their character. A quick meetup can be set in place to ensure they’re the right person to live with. No mom’s friend’s son, mutual friends or cousins involved. No strings attached. This leaves you with an accessible, realistic and also reliable option in finding a roommate.

In general, there are ways to make any situation work out in the long run. Remember that this isn’t a lifelong tie to them. Whether you end up rooming with your new best friend or someone you just tolerate, you can still have an amazing college experience. There’s always the potential for good and bad roommate pairs no matter how you pick one, so don’t stress and do what feels right.