How do colleges match freshman roommates?

Transforming a 14×14 space into a living/study/bedroom with another person, who you may or may not know, can cause a bit of anxiety. Will you become BFFs? Will you even get along? How do colleges match freshman roommates for the smoothest start to the college experience?

There are four primary ways colleges match first-year roommates.

  • Based on a student-submitted lifestyle questionnaire
  • Student choice
  • Randomly
  • A mixture of the above

Lifestyle questionnaire

A housing questionnaire will help student life professionals match freshman roommates. This questionnaire will ask about your personality (introvert or extrovert), study habits (absolute silence or background noise), cleanliness (pack rat or neat freak), musical preferences, sleeping habits, etc.

Be honest when filling out this form. Don’t answer with Mom looking over your shoulder, pressuring the answers she expects. You will be the one living with the person chosen based on these answers.

Student choice

Incoming students can choose their own roommate, either somebody they already know or somebody met through social networking. Some students use websites designed specifically to introduce potential roommates, others search social media to meet people who could become a roommate.

While choosing your own roommate may seem ideal, sometimes it doesn’t work to room with your cousin’s best friend just because you know someone in common. Like when they are bouncing a ball against the wall because they need to move while studying while you are trying to focus on reading and formulating a response essay for your next class.

Not a perfect system

Student life professionals do their best when matching freshmen roommates, knowing that one of the many keys to collegiate success is that you make friends on campus. Sometimes it works and you’ll instantly click with your roommate.

Other times, they will completely miss the mark. If this happens, know that your resident advisor (RA) or hall director is there to help. They may work to mediate a solution or, if all else fails, allow you to switch rooms.

Expand your (world) view

Rooming with someone you don’t know can be life-changing. Even people who seem compatible on paper may have very different backgrounds. Maybe you can introduce your roomie to life on a farm and the flexibility required to work when the job requires it. Your roomie can introduce you to life in town, where you can make a plan and actually stick with that plan. Opening yourself to consider a different way of thinking can totally expand your viewpoint, preparing you to work with different types of people.
The benefits of living on campus >

Connect early

As soon as you know who your roommate will be, get to know them better. Make plans to meet in person or meet virtually. Come fall, it won’t feel like you are sharing a room with a stranger.

Your roommate might become a confidant. A new BFF through thick and thin. Or they might just be a cohabitant. A person that you share a room with, but you hang out more with people from your major, your team or your club. And that’s OK too.

Either way, it’s important to communicate, be open to new ways of thinking, be understanding and show respect. Do this and you’ll be off to a great start to a new year!

At Bluffton University:

Most freshmen are matched with a roommate based on responses to the Housing Questionnaire. New students are given access to this form at Summer Orientation/Registration. Freshmen are also welcome to choose their own roommates. If two students select each other to be their roommate, they will be paired.   

Returning students select their own roommates through the Room Draw process.