Who makes the perfect roommate?

By Saher Khan

Searching for the right roommate can be a stressful and nerve-wracking task that requires a lot of time in order to find a perfect match.

And while a roommate does not have to be a best friend, they do have to be someone who is tolerable to live with.

To provide these types of mates, many housing options on campus provide a roommate questionnaire for students to fill out in order to ensure they agree on basic living arrangements.

Hendrick House, a private residential dorm on campus, is one such housing option. The dorm uses a questionnaire to help determine potential compatibility among students, and use it to help assign people to roommates who will be compatible with them, according to Joe Lamberson, office manager at Hendrick House.

Lamberson, who works on roommate assignments, said that Hendrick House has a section on its application where applicants can talk about their hobbies, habits and interests.

“Each student can use this section to give us a picture of how they see themselves using the room, for example, as a quiet study haven versus as a relaxing hangout spot,” he said.

Using this information as a starting point, Hendrick House staff then will compare the information provided by the students to look for common interests and shared experience.

Another big factor in matching roommates is what year and major a student is.

While roommates do not always have to be the same age or have the same major, these general similarities are something a lot of campus housing takes into account when putting people together, said LaDarius DuPree, senior in LAS and former residential adviser at Allen Hall and Illini Tower.

“People with the same major tend to have similar personalities and have similar schedules so that always makes for a good roommate,” said DuPree.

He also said he thinks that roommates who are in the same year will be able to better relate to each other.

“Freshmen will understand what a freshman is going through, and upperclassmen can relate to upperclassmen,” he said. “A junior will be stressed searching for an internship and their fellow juniors can relate while a freshman would want someone to explore campus or go to sporting events with.”

Both Lamberson and DuPree said they recommend students to look for others with a similar major and strongly shared interests because those can make for the best roommate pairings.

“Being able to relate on an academic level, even if it’s just so the two of you have a basic understanding of your collective course load, can work wonders in a roommate situation,” Lamberson said. “Adding in shared interests and activities can yield a stable living situation that can even become a lifelong friendship.”

Shazia Siddiqi, senior in LAS, had the task of pairing roommates who contacted her through her RSO, the Muslim Student Association.

She said that when pairing people, she often asked them things that she deemed were the best judge of compatibility. Some of these things included their daily routine, sleeping habits, cleanliness, study habits, social life and any hobbies or interests.

“This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get along, but it’s helpful to have some common ground. You don’t have to be best friends, but as long as you can respect one another and your living arrangement, it will be okay,’ Siddiqi said.

She also recommended that people set their own set of rules once they move in.

“Though it may be awkward at first, having a frank conversation with your roommate in the first few days will prove to be helpful long term. Finally, it’s essential to compromise. Communicate and try to come up with reasonable compromises that you’re both comfortable with,” added Siddiqi. “People looking for the right roommate should definitely take these things into consideration.”

Similarities are not always a necessity, though. DuPree expressed caution in having roommates with personalities that are too similar.

“A lot of roommate conflicts I had to deal with when I was an RA were between people who were very similar,” he said. “It can help to live with someone who is a little different because that also allows you to learn how to compromise and adjust and you can also find yourself exposed to different people and make you have a more of an open mind about things.”

Saher can be reached at [email protected]