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Roommate Selection Process Differs Across Colleges

College roommates

August 31, 2012

Back in the day, college roommates were randomly assigned to one another or selected based on survey questions. Times have changed, however, and now some schools rely on programs such as RoomSurf or RoomSync to allow students to find more compatible matches, reported The Boston Globe.

Some students also take matters into their own hands, conducting their own searches online and then submitting requests to their school's residential life department to be paired with someone they found -- usually a person they met through Facebook. Such is the case at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, where residence life administrators report receiving roommate requests from students who connected via Facebook, according to The Huffington Post. The school's Director of Residence Life Tracy Benner sees these roommate requests as beneficial.

"Roommates who select each other have a vested interest to stay together," she said in The Huffington Post.

Meeting on Facebook, however, doesn't always mean that the pair will be a match made in heaven.

"Because Facebook interactions are often superficial, roommates are sometimes surprised when they actually live with someone who seemed so compatible or 'cool' on Facebook, but who in reality turns out to be a 'bad' roommate," Eric Lassahn, director of residence life at Susquehanna University, told The Huffington Post.

Roommate selection can be important for college success. As USA Today noted, roommate conflicts are one of the top five reasons that freshmen students leave school. Additionally, there can be horrific results when students act maliciously toward one another. Consider the case of Rutgers University Freshman Tyler Clementi who took his own life in 2010, after his roommate used a web cam to spy on his activities.

Parents are also becoming more involved in their children's roommate selections. In fact, there seems to be an increase in the number of parents who contact schools to see if they can have their child's roommate switched. Often, these parents have viewed that roommate's profile online.

"Parents have complicated student assignments tremendously," John Messina, chief housing officer at the University of Akron, said in USA Today.

Yet, there are still some students who like to do things the old-fashioned way. Such is the case of Tom Sommers, a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts, reports The Boston Globe. He filled out a 19-question survey, which has been in use at the school for years, and answered questions about his extracurricular activities, sleeping styles, and cleanliness. Sommers then waited for his roommate to be assigned and was reportedly happy to be matched with a student from Chicago.

"I didn't want to pick my own roommate," Sommers said in The Boston Globe. "I wanted to meet someone new from a different part of the country. It's cool to be introduced to new types of people."

Nonetheless, Sommers, like other students, has taken to Facebook to find out more about his future roommate. The two have already used the social networking site to discuss how they will share amenities.

"So far, it seems like it's going to be great," Sommers said.


Compiled by Maggie O'Neill

Sources:

"Colleges Differ On Best Way of Roommate Selection," usatoday.com, August 29, 2012, Mary Beth Marklein

"In Roommate Selection, The Old Way Still Works," boston.com, August 28, 2012, Martine Powers

"Meeting Roommates on Facebook Before They Move-In," huffingtonpost.com, August 30, 2012, Scott Willyerd

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