What To Consider When Choosing Your Roommates Next Year

One of the most important decisions you have to make each year once leaving home for college is finding roommates. We have all heard about roommate horror stories, and we all fear being the one to have to share them. However, we have also all heard positive stories where roommates become best friends and even future bridesmaids. So, the big question is how to tell one from the other before having to sign a binding contract on sharing a dorm room, apartment, or house together. Because what is scary about having a bad roommate is that you will not know how bad he or she is until there’s little chance to turn back the clock.

In college, there are a few different situations you can be in when it comes to deciding on a roommate for the next year. One, you are a new student and you have to scour the “incoming students” Facebook pages for what you hope to be your ideal roommate and future best friend from a pool of people you have never met before. In that case, you have to use the same judgment that people use when online dating. Two, you are unhappy in your current roommate situation and have to have “the talk” about not wanting to live with your current roommates again next year. Three, you are entirely happy with your roommates now and you are going to live together next year which is amazing. Go you, and this article is probably not for you. 

In the first situation, you are a new student and you are essentially internet dating for a roommate. In this case, be sure to look at all your options. There are a lot of new students entering UCLA and you might want to dig around in the “Searching For a Roommate!” Facebook postings for a while before reaching out to anyone. One thing to look for is their likes and dislikes. If they do not like loud music, guests or are expressing a strong preference for a room environment that does not fit your expectations, move on because roommates are a yearlong commitment that should not be decided upon lightly. A lot of them will list their majors, what sports they did in high school and their involvements. However, this is not a job interview, these factors are not so important. As an English major pursuing a career in the fashion industry, most of my friends are pre-med or economics majors, and this has not once affected our friendship or compatibility. What you are looking for is what kind of living partner and friend he or she will be. Look for what they like to do on the weekends, what their social media has shown them doing with their friends, how they express themselves in their writing and their pictures. If they have photos at concerts, festivals or parties, they are probably more outgoing, active in social scenes and adventurous. If that is what you are looking for and if they fit all of your other roommate requirements, feel free to reach out and feel out the conversations from there! Notice how I said to reach out if they fit your “roommate requirements” not your “friend requirements”. This is because being good friends with someone does not mean you will be good roommates with that person. This can lead people into the second situation: having bad roommates that you want to separate from for next year. If this feeling is mutual, you are not close with your roommates and you all already expect to live separately next year. However, if you are still friends with the roommate you want to leave next year, that iss when you have to really consider your situation and have “the talk.” To find out if you are in a toxic living situation, you must evaluate your living space and consider how happy you could be with other options. To do this, think about how it feels to come home after a hard day. Are you happy? Is going to your room your first inclination when you want to leave an upsetting situation? Or, is being in your room with your roommate causing those upsetting situations? When we lie away from home, we have to find “home” somewhere else and, without that safe place, we can drive ourselves mad. Everyone needs an escape and if you need an escape from your roommate, they might not be the right roommate for you even if he or she happens to be your best friend. It’s okay to get frustrated or annoyed with your friends sometimes, that is part of a relationship. But, what is not okay is if that friend comes home with you and you cannot have your escape, which only adds unnecessary tension to your friendship. To be good roommates, you and your friend must live similarly, solve and face confrontation similarly, have similar habits, have a similar understanding about studying and quiet times and, in my experience, be on the same maturity level. If you and your friend do not have this, you may want to consider living with someone who does. 

Knowing what to consider when finding roommates is a learning process and, unfortunately, it requires some trial and error even when you do your research as a new student. It is not a perfect science, but the important thing is knowing when you made the wrong decision in choosing a roommate and fixing it for the future. Though conversations with your roommates about options for the next year can be hard, it is likely that if you are seeing some problems, they are too. What’s best is saying it and making a change. Remember, though roommates are a big change, choosing the right ones can be necessary for your own mental health and for your relationships.