I remember when I first went to college—it was exciting, new, adventurous, and a new chapter of life. I had a “random roommate” that the housing office picked and I didn’t know what would become of it—but that was part of the adventure. These days, incoming freshmen are not so adventurous.
An article in the WashingtonPost tells the story of how more students are meeting potential college roommates on social networking sites before they move in to the dorm.
“Realistically, even the most personal roommate-matching service can’t match Facebook,” said Adam Gang, 18, of Colorado, who will be a freshman at American University. “You’re an accepted friend request away from knowing someone.”
Some might look at the whole idea of knowing your roommate before you arrive takes part of the fun out of it, because being with someone with a different perspective might be a good thing.
On the other hand, if you know you’ll have a lot in common with your roommate, you might expect there to be less drama and more happiness. Then there are some who really take the safe route and find people that went to their high school or similar background experiences.
In the interest of keeping up with the times, colleges such as American University are using questionnaires to help match up students with ideal roommates. They use the answers to give
student a list of potentials and then students will undoubtedly go to Facebook and start figuring out who is the best candidate.
One problem with this idea is that it might create more of an administrative problem as housing offices get increased numbers of housing requests. Another problem, according to school officials, is that students may match themselves with people for all the wrong reasons, although if that is the case, it really is their own fault if things go south!
When Melanie Blair searched for her first roommate at the University of Southern California a few years ago, a few girls she contacted wanted to know her jean size.
“Some girls want a roommate who is the same size and has the same shoe size. That way they can share clothes,” said Blair, 21, from Chicago, who will be a senior this fall. Once, she said, a prospective roommate turned her down because of a size conflict.
The internet makes the whole dorm experience less of a mystery, which, again, can be a good thing if you want to play things safe. Once roommates request one another, they can pick a dorm room on an online floor plan, just like booking an airplane seat, according to the Post.
Facebook has taken things to the next level as students are making friends before they even step foot inside the dorm. This summer at the College of William and Mary, freshmen who will live in Dupont Hall have an active Facebook page where they announced room assignments, found neighbors (“Room 108! Who is in 110!? And 106?”) and posted questions for RAs (“Does anyone know exactly what the rooms come with, furniture-wise?”). It’ll be interesting to see how far technology takes us in this regard. Some colleges may already have virtual tours of their dorms and academic buildings—meaning you wouldn’t even have to make a trip to visit it! While that certainly does seem extreme, I suspect that it must be a reality somewhere.
Hopefully some students will still want to do things the old fashioned way. While it is true that getting a random roommate could be a recipe for disaster, I still say that it is healthy to have a bit of mystery in our lives.