1. Psych yourself out.
Your roommate is, after all, the deciding factor in whether you have any friends at all in college. There are three options. Your roommate will either be cooler than you, less cool than you, or approximately as cool as you (this arrangement is ideal). If your roommate is cooler than you, she’s obviously going to think you’re super-lame and laugh about you to her friends. If she’s totally weird and antisocial, you’ll be isolated on that basis, and you’ll be associated with her from the get-go, making other people assume you’re antisocial and weird. Oh my god, this is life-changing. You should drop out of school right now.
2. Take control of the situation.
Your school might let you pick your own roommate. Mine didn’t, so I don’t know a ton about that, except that it looks like a really good way to make friends exactly like the ones you had in high school. Assuming, though, that your school is making this decision for you, they probably still take your preferences into account a little bit. Brown gives all incoming freshmen an in-depth roommate compatibility questionnaire, shown below.
- How messy are you, usually? (1 2 3 4 5)
- If you had a 9am class, when would you go to bed? (10pm / 11pm / 12am / 1am / 2am)
- Can you sleep with the lights on? (Yes / No)
- Do you smoke? (Yes / No)
Answer correctly, and you’ll get the roommate of your dreams!
3. Make introductions.
The time has come. You’ve gotten the email. You have your roommate’s name. The first thing you should do is send her an email. Introduce yourself in the vaguest terms possible, so that you can easily backtrack if necessary (college is about reinventing yourself!!). Ask her one or two questions, but don’t grill her or anything because then she’ll think you’re a sociopath. Mention something you’re bringing to the room (a microwave or a pet fish or some african wall hangings) as a gesture of goodwill.
4. Stalk the shit out of this girl.
Facebook is for beginners. I mean, definitely stalk her there first, but only because it’s likely to give you more revealing leads. Is there a lot of photography? Search her name on flickr. Google is always going to be useful. I googled my roommate and found a video of her performing a spoken-word piece on HIV and sexual education in South Africa. I also decided I liked the way she wore scarves. This prepared me well for a year of living ten feet away from her. Stalking is very important.
5. Meet in real life.
Maybe your roommate lives near you. Maybe the two of you will get coffee or something before school starts. Fret over what to wear to this coffee date. Both of you, desperate for information, are going to be reading into the other’s choices as much as possible, and the difference between a white shirt and a black shirt might be the difference between a friend and an awkward cohabitant. Maybe you don’t get this chance, in which case you’ll probably meet your roommate on move-in day. You’ll be sweaty from carrying things up the stairs in August heat, and stressed, and your mom will be beginning to piss you off, when suddenly there’s another person and her mom in your bedroom. You’ll say hello, and the moms will be overly friendly and you’ll decide it is time to go to the bookstore right now come on mom it might close. The next time you see her will be when all the parents have left and you’re setting up your desk. Her mom left her with a box of oreos, which she offers to you. She’s pretty alright. (Unless, of course, she sucks.)