Chosen Vs. Random Roommates: Take a Chance!
Going to college without knowing anyone is terrifying to a lot of people - if you’re like me, I had a set group of friends all throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, and even though these friend groups fluctuated, we all lived in the same community and basked in the familiarity and predictability of our lives together. That all changes when you all move away from college, so naturally you may feel inclined to Facebook stalk the nearest person at your high school or your community that will be attending the same school as you in the fall, and ask them to be your roommate in an effort to maintain a level of comfortability that you have been used to your whole life.
Or maybe, you decide to turn to the Facebook UCI Class of ____ page to find a roommate in an effort to control your dorm future by posting your bio, pictures, and finding someone who’s Instagram highlight reel matches with your projected aesthetic. People who are interested DM you and you make small talk until you choose your roommates and awkwardly ask for each other’s email addresses and student ID numbers.
If these stories sound familiar, these are potentially the worst or best decisions you could make in your life. As a residential advisor, and as someone who lived in the residential halls my first year as a resident, I’ve seen it all. And I’ve been able to come to a conclusion - people who choose their roommates over brief Facebook contact tend to have the most roommate problems down the line. Whether it was because people only portray the best of themselves on social media, or because you already are friends with your roommate and becoming roommates creates a series of unset boundaries, I believe that Facebook has created a series of unprecedented issues.
One issue is that residents try to choose 3 people off Facebook, or, commonly, two pairs of friends will choose each other on Facebook, in order to room in the Mesa Court Tower quads (the cheapest but least private housing option). This presents a series of issues: 1) one person always feels left out, 2) or people feel so comfortable with their roommate(s)/become so focused on getting to know their roommate(s) that they don’t try to connect with the rest of the hall, and feel even more isolated later as a result.
Another issue is sticking with people you knew from high school. Even if you were good friends then, there is a huge difference between being friends and living together and seeing each other every day. When you’re familiar with your roommates from the beginning, you are less likely to set boundaries, and less likely to confront each other when conflict arises because it might strain your relationship. This is another common source of roommate disagreements - boundaries are never set, and when you want to branch out to the rest of your hall you might find that you never put yourself out there in the first place.
My advice? Take a chance with random roommates if you feel comfortable enough to push your boundaries a little bit. Even if you get a roommate that you might not be completely compatible with, you learn to adapt, and create connections that you might not have found on your own. You might just learn to love it, or hate it - but at least you learn!