After hearing roommate horror stories from parents and friends, seniors preparing to head off to a university turn to social media or university-implemented options to find a roommate. Unfortunately, university-implemented options do not exist at several schools, leaving incoming college freshmen with few resources to find a compatible roommate.
While a number of seniors choose to live with childhood friends for their first year on campus, others are not so lucky and opt to live with a random roommate instead. In 2016, 41.2 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled as undergraduate students. While universities should not require random roommates, they should implement a program to help students pick a roommate as they are often the first non-family members that young people live with.
Although not the best option, students typically searching for roommates head to Facebook as they are unaware of other existing options. After acceptance into a university, students join their graduating class’ Facebook group and scroll to find a roommate who looks like a match. This roommate search process yields more shallow results, as students often look through pictures of potential roommates and pick one with the best style or appears to have the most fun. While having a roommate with a similar social media feed could provide benefits, matching cleanliness and lifestyle habits undoubtedly create a more beneficial room situation.
Another option for finding a roommate is university-implemented random assignment programs, like RoomSync. RoomSync, a program which aids in matching compatible roommates, is utilized by universities, including University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University. When using RoomSync, the applicant answers a quiz with questions about their habits, including their sleep schedule, major and where they would prefer to live, then the applicant swipes through people who are compatible, similar to the dating app Tinder.
RoomSync allows students to choose their roommates from a selection catered towards their best fit. After implementing RoomSync, University of Florida found the number of reported roommate conflicts decreased 67 percent. University of Florida also noted a high level of ethnic diversity in roommate pairings, in comparison to their former matching processes.
In 2018, Duke University implemented a procedure in which they stopped allowing first-year students to select their roommates. Duke’s Housing and Residence Life staff then uses the information students provide on their application to place students with their appropriate roommates. With safety and social concerns, this new procedure received backlash from incoming students and their parents. Although it is an extreme policy, it does steer students away from scrolling through social media to choose a roommate based solely on shallow factors, including looks and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Similarly, Stanford University holds a tradition of not offering freshmen and transfer students the option of requesting a particular roommate, and students do not find out who they will be living with until they move in. Stanford’s Residential and Dining Enterprises staff analyzes students’ roommate information forms, including information about their cleanliness habits, preferred music and how quiet or social they want the room while they study. The staff also examines short essays from students about their living style to give insight into their personalities.
While random roommates should not be mandatory, universities like University of Florida and Stanford have the right idea with including a procedure to help students find roommates who hold similar lifestyle habits. Matching of roommates by lifestyle rather than social media feed creates a more diverse and compatible pairing.