How to Find a College Roommate

portrait of Kasia Kovacs
by Kasia Kovacs

Published on August 18, 2021

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How to Find a College Roommate

College is an exciting time: It's a transition into adulthood — a real-life coming-of-age experience. For many, it's also the first time they've lived away from their families for an extended period of time — and that can seem scary.

While some schools allow students to live in single rooms, many colleges require incoming students to live with roommates in the dorms. This can be a great way to make new friends while at college. It also can help you avoid loneliness.

Of course, if you and your roommate aren't compatible, then your living situation can be uncomfortable or even tense. It may even ruin your college experience. That's why it's important to find a roommate who's a good match.

This guide offers tips to help you find a compatible college roommate — someone who can help make your college experience a blast.

Start With Your Friends

One of the easiest ways to find a roommate is to start with the people you already know. If you and your friends attend the same college, consider rooming together. You also can ask your friends if they know anyone else in need of a roommate.

Just because you get along well with a friend in high school or through extracurriculars, however, that doesn't mean you'll be compatible roommates.

Consider friends with similar living habits as yours. If you value tidiness, then a friend who never folds laundry or leaves dirty dishes out will probably irritate you. Similarly, more laid-back students could quickly become annoyed with a friend who's constantly cleaning up or needs to be asleep by 10 p.m.

Without a similar outlook — or clear communication on living expectations — rooming with a friend might end up ruining your friendship instead of bringing you closer together. Make sure to have conversations about values, habits, and communication before deciding to move in together.

Make a List of Roommate Qualities

Whether or not you're rooming with a friend, it's still helpful to write down a list of qualities you might want in a roommate.

Some things to consider: Which personalities do you get along with best? Are you looking for a tidy roommate who knows how to stay organized in college or someone who is more laid-back? Someone who likes to wake up early or is more of a night owl? An introverted bookworm or an extroverted party animal?

Be sure to write down deal breakers as well. If someone thinks it's OK to borrow your clothes without asking or rolls their eyes at the idea of establishing a list of agreed responsibilities (like a cleaning rotation), it's reasonable to consider these qualities unacceptable.

Establishing lists of desired qualities and deal breakers can help you narrow down potential roommates. But if you're too picky, you might not find anyone who meets your criteria.

Prepare a Roommate Interview

A roommate interview might sound intimidating, but it doesn't need to be as formal as a college or job interview. These discussions can allow you to chat with potential roommates to determine whether you're compatible with each other's living style.

Consider these interviews informal while still sticking to an idea of what you want in a potential match. When preparing questions to ask your potential roommate, think about topics like the following:

You can schedule these chats in many different ways. You can always email or text your potential roommate; however, you might learn more about your roommate chemistry and compatibility by hosting a face-to-face meeting or a Zoom call.

Finally, make sure to schedule these chats well in advance of your potential move-in date. Don't leave them until the week before you get to campus.

Join Facebook Groups

Facebook groups can help you connect with other college students. Many colleges have Facebook groups for incoming students and for students seeking roommates. You might also find Facebook subgroups created for each class year, various college majors, or extracurricular activities. Although these subgroups aren't specifically for roommate-seekers, you may be able to find like-minded students looking for roommates, too.

Be aware, however, that as with any social media platform, not everyone on the internet logs on with the best intentions. It's important to have a conversation with a potential roommate — preferably through a video call or in a public place — to help you try to determine whether that person is trustworthy.

Use Roommate-Matching Websites

Similar to Facebook groups, roommate-matching websites can help you find a potential roommate through online forums. These sites often allow you to create a profile and browse profiles of potential roommates. This purposeful approach may make it easier than using Facebook groups.

Some colleges use their own roommate-matching sites, while others remain unaffiliated with a specific school.

A few popular independent sites include the following:

Just like with Facebook groups, remember to vet potential roommates with an interview to ensure you find a good fit.

Look Into Themed Dorms on Campus

Sometimes colleges and universities offer themed dorms. Schools create these spaces so students can live together based on common interests.

If you're nervous about moving into a dorm for the first time — or if you're naturally shy — then this could be a great way for you to connect with like-minded individuals. Themed dorms are also a good way to meet and live with people who are passionate about a cause you care about.

Some examples of themed dorms include the following:

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Find a College Roommate

Can you choose your roommate in college?

That depends on the college you attend. Many colleges allow students to choose their own roommates or request roommates; however, some colleges and universities still assign roommates to first-year students. That said, if you end up with a completely incompatible roommate, you may be able to request a switch.

What should be in a college roommate profile?

Give other students a sense of who you are as a person and a roommate. Include the basics: your name, your age, your college major, and where you're from. Then add insight into your personality, such as your hobbies, interests, sports team allegiances, and favorite books and movies. Finally, add details about your living habits — clean or messy, social or introverted, etc. — and what you're looking for in a roommate. Be honest to improve your chances of finding a good match.

When should I look for college roommates?

You should start looking for a college roommate the summer before the school year begins, although you can begin your search as soon as you're accepted into college. Avoid leaving it until the last minute. If you wait until the week before the semester starts, you might struggle to find a good match.

What is the safest way to find a college roommate?

If you can find a friend to be your roommate, or if a trusted friend can vouch for a potential roommate, then that's a great place to start. If you discover a potential roommate online, use caution and common sense. Try to meet that person first through a video call or face to face in a busy place.

How long does it take to find a college roommate?

The timeline for finding a roommate varies for everyone. Some students match with a roommate within a few days, while others search for weeks or even months.

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