Dorm life and college roommates: How to find a roommate you can live with

Dorm life and roommatesIt used to be when you opted for dorm life that your college roommates were assigned to you. Good luck with that – rooming with a surprise stranger can lead to lifelong friendships or dreadful college semesters. The Internet has given students a new option: you can find a roommate online, then finalize the arrangement with your school. If you would rather live off-campus, you definitely have to hunt down your roommates yourself. You’ll need one or more roommates to share the cost of rent and utilities. Here are a few tips to on how to find a roommate that you can live with – and avoid roommates from hell.

Find a roommate online

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that finding a roommate can be as easy as doing an Internet search. Roommate-finding sites are popping up all over.  These sites work a lot like a dating service in that you create a video profile so that others can check you out. You review the profiles of likely candidates and contact those who look like a good roommate match for you.

These matching services include:

  • Roomsurf
  • Easyroommate
  • Roommate Connect

Be sure to check with your school to make sure that they are willing to accept roommate requests if you’re looking for a dorm-mate. When you want to use an online matching service, first check to see if your school is part of its member network. Otherwise you won’t be able to find anyone who attends your school.

Kissing frogs

It’s a good idea to check out where they your potential roommate lives now and ask a lot of questions before you make a final decision or sign a lease.

Things to know:

  • What hours do they like to keep? Early riser or night owl?
  • What are their friends like? Your roommate might be great but their friends – not so much.
  • Are they neat freaks or hopeless slobs?
  • Do they have a steady income (if rent is an issue)?

You want to make sure that this is a person that you can get along with for an extended period of time. Experts suggest that you not room with your best friend because you just know each other too well – and because the pressure of being away from home and dealing with school can take a toll on your friendship. Even friends sometimes find that they just can’t share a space without friction and drama.

In a May 2012 post for, “Should You Find Your Freshman Year College Roommate Online?” Sierra Tishgart interviewed co-founder of, Justin Gaither.

Gaither recommended, “Chances are that the first person you chat with—or maybe even the second or third—might not be the person you want to live with.[…] Talk to as many people as you can, and don’t be afraid to say no to living with someone.”

Can’t we all just get along?

The folks at Washington College put together a list of tips to help students match up with the right dorm roommate – and come to terms with sharing the space once the relationship has been established. In a web page titled, “Roommates 101” they offer videos and suggestions to help you get settled with the right fit.

According to tip number four, “Decide whether it’s acceptable to bring a boyfriend/girlfriend back to the room. Figure out how the roommate entertaining a guest will let the other roommate know when he has company.”

More tips about keeping the peace with you roommate come from Andrea Honaker in her August 13, 2013 post for, “Tips for taking on a college roommate.”

Honaker suggested, “If a conflict arises, confront it immediately instead of ignoring it and allowing it to build. […] Don’t complain about your roommate to other people or through social media or online diaries.”

If you’re lucky, your college roommate may become a friend you can count on for the rest of your life. Isn’t that worth a little extra effort in finding and getting along with the right person?

What are your experiences with having a college roommate? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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