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Applications are complete and a decision is made. Your child has chosen the school they will attend and as the anxiety for this decision ebbs, a new one emerges; picking a roommate. Has your child ever shared a room with anyone, even a sibling? Most likely not. Most students heading off to college have never had to share their bedroom space with anyone. Many colleges are recognizing this and are building new dorms that allow for single resident. Not all offer this option though, so the roommate search begins. Of course, your student can choose to have a random roommate assigned to her by the university. In my research, I’ve found there to be a negligible difference between the success of a random match versus one that was chosen, but that option is up to each individual.
So, if you student is choosing a roommate, what should he look for? Many universities offer Facebook sites where students can e-meet each other and find a suitable match. There are also roommate matching websites much like dating websites where students fill out questionnaires and are matched with potential roommates. Check your university’s housing website to see if they have a preferred service. Two that I’ve heard of are Rommsurf and My College Roomie. I can’t personally speak to the successes of these matches but they do offer testimonials on each of their sites.
Ask a group of college parents and you will be offered roommate horror stories as well as happily ever after ones. A bad match can have a greatly negative impact on your child’s happiness at school. After all, they are sharing space with possibly someone they’ve never met before and prior to this experience and have likely had no experience sharing a space with anyone, let alone such a small space. Based on feedback from experienced parents, I have come up with these five suggestions:
Don’t room with a friend from home
Rooming with a friend, while sounding like a good idea, can have its disadvantages. Though it’s true that a roommate from home will offer some immediate comfort in this new environment it can also hinder the development of new friendships. That level of comfort could lessen the need to seek out and form new relationships. This pairing can also be intimidating to others who might perceive that there is no room for a new friend. If you walk into a party where you don’t know anyone, are you going to walk up to the group already deep in conversation among themselves or someone who is also looking around for someone to talk to? Best friends don’t necessarily make the best roommates and it would it be a huge shame for a friendship to end because of incompatibility in a living situation. As discussed in another post, Preventing Homesickness: The Air-Tight Plan For a Positive Transition To College, having your great friend from home room with someone else creates opportunities for new friends for your child. Hopefully your child will love their new roommate (new friend #1), and hopefully, their good friend from home will love their new roommate (who now becomes your child’s new friend #2). Hopefully new friends numbers 1 and 2 will also have friends that they will bring into the group, and so on. Win! If you’re as old as me, you may recall a Faberge shampoo commercial which I think about with the previous sentence. Warning, nostalgia below!