Q: What should I ask my new roommate?

Contacting the person who will be invading your personal space for the next academic year is a daunting step.

Finding the contact information is easy, as the university will send you contact information.

At the same time, you can also get a good sense of who a person is by friending them on Facebook.

An e-mail is generally preferable to a telephone interview; it’s easier to talk to a computer screen then a disembodied voice. You can also send them a list of questions to answer right off the bat.

It’s important of course to get all of the banal details out of the way: who’s going to bring the television, if either of you are going to bring dishes, if you’re going to bring a rug (depending on which dorm you’re living in), if you’re going to bring or rent a fridge, and if you want beds bunked or side-by-side, lofted or not lofted (again, depending on which dorm you’re in).

After this, it’s also good to get a sense of what sort of lifestyle your roommate lives. Is he noisy? Messy? Night owl? Will they study a lot in the room, or will they head to the library? Does he smoke? Is he so anal retentive about smoking that he’ll complain about the smell of it on your clothes? Does he plan on rushing? Will he be doing any sports? It’s good to get a sense of your roommate, and any potential conflicts that might arise before they actually arise.

There are, of course, multiple other questions that will inevitably come up, but most of these can be dealt with once you actually get to the University.

You’ll want to establish how you will decorate the dorm room, how you’ll arrange the furniture, and of course how you’ll let your roommate know if you have a visitor that it’s better not to walk in on.

Getting all of these things smoothed out won’t guarantee a bump free resident hall living experience, but it can at least smooth over the more ridiculous conflicts before they explode.