How to pick and settle in with your random roommate

It was, for me, one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of the transition into college: finding a roommate.

I started out wanting to live with a friend from high school, but everyone I asked said they wanted to find a roommate on Facebook or just go random. They were afraid that living with someone they already knew could ruin their friendship.

I figured my next best option was to find a roommate on Facebook. I checked out various University of Illinois Facebook pages, constantly looking for new potential roommates.

I had countless conversations with future classmates I thought would make good roommates. Despite these awkward, speed-date-esque “interviews,” I still ended up alone by the time my Housing application was due.

I was terrified.

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For whatever reason, I was sure that I was going to get some nightmare roommate.

I compulsively checked my email for weeks, waiting to find out more about my random roommate.

Fortunately, I was notified in late May that I was placed in my first choice — the LEADS living-learning community. I hoped that the fact my random roommate had applied and was selected for LEADS too would mean that we have a lot in common.

I continued obsessively checking my email until one day when I got a Facebook message from a girl announcing herself as my roommate.

We started texting and FaceTiming each other in the weeks leading up to move-in day in an attempt to get to know each other.

Whether you become friendly with your roommate is completely specific to you and your roomie. Some pairs end up the best of friends while others are more distant. I was fortunate enough to become good friends with my random roommate, but I have plenty of friends who merely coexisted with theirs.

Before I even submitted my Housing app, friends and family assured me that if I ended up going random it would be ok. “You just need to be able to live with each other,” they said.

If you’ve been matched with your random roomie by the University Housing survey like I was, hopefully they’ve accurately matched your lifestyles! Still, it’s good to sit down together in the beginning of the year and discuss your living habits.

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you like to listen to music while studying or does that distract you? How organized are you really? Which items in your room, if any, are you okay with sharing?

Be honest. Your roommate-tionship is built on trust. You two are supposed to live together in this space for the next nine months so you really need to know what you’re getting in a living partner. Plus, if you start the year off by being dishonest with your roommate, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year.

Communication is key. You don’t need to tell your roommate every action of your day but it could be nice to let them know certain things so you’re on the same page. My roommate always went to sleep earlier than me. We had a deal that we would let each other know when we were going to sleep or nap so that the other one knew to enter the room quietly.

If your roommate is doing something that bothers you, talk to them about it. See if you can create a solution that fits both of your habits and needs. If your complaint goes unresolved, get your resident adviser involved. They’re there to help facilitate the conversation and keep the peace.

If you are matched with someone with whom you have irreconcilable differences, you can always request a room change. In my experience, most people I know who went random or found a roommate on Facebook wound up okay. Some were better friends with their roommates than others, but overall everyone got along and had a great freshman year.

Looking back on this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better random roommate. We not only were able to live with each other, we even ended up becoming friends. 

Steffie is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected].