Wouldn’t it be great if the real world were more like the show “Friends” where roommate situations are like living in perfect unity with your best friend? Unfortunately, that’s not the case in most situations, but that doesn’t mean your roommate situation won’t be a good experience. Issues with a roommate remain one of the top 5 reasons a college student drops out of school. It can also affect your GPA and is a known stressor for many college students. Whether you’re a college freshman entering your first dorm experience or a returning student changing roommates, Justin Lavelle of background checking service PeopleLooker shares his favorite tips for finding your best roommate situation in the new school year.
7 Tips for Finding a Great College Roommate:
- Plan Ahead—there’s one key factor that can lead to a very difficult living situation and that’s lack of planning. Whether you choose your own roommate or leave it to the school to decide, make sure you communicate with your future roommate before move-in day. Even if you’re friends, you need to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to expectations and living styles. Just because a person makes a wonderful friend, does not automatically mean they’ll make a wonderful roommate. So it’s important to talk things out in advance and make sure you’re both in agreeance about how things will be handled.
- Discuss Personalities & Living Habits—it’s super important you openly discuss your personalities and living habits before moving day. Talk about things like sleeping habits (are they night owls or early birds?), social activities (are they a partier or home body?), plans for entertaining friends (should you expect visitors several times a week and will a boyfriend/girlfriend be sleeping over?), housekeeping skills (are they neat freaks or messy?). No one will be a perfect match, but honestly ask yourself if these habits are things you can live with.
- Check Out Social Media—it’s not a bad idea to check your future roommate’s Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram photos before meeting them in person, but be careful not to judge and make assumptions without an in-person meet-up (unless there’s screaming red flags!). Social media can provide a snapshot, but it’s important to keep an open mind and realize you won’t really get to know someone until you spend time with them.
- Talk Openly About Money Matters—talking about money may be an uncomfortable conversation to be having with someone you barely know, but it’s better to discuss before you become roommates how you’ll handle issues surrounding money. Will you share a landline? How will you pay for it? Will there be any items you share? How will you divide the cost? If you’re paying rent, how will this be handled? Put everything in writing and make sure you both have a copy so there’s no question of what was decided upon when moving in together.
- Do a Background Check—in today’s world it’s totally acceptable and just plain smart to run a background check (like PeopleLooker) on a potential roommate. Doing so can help ensure you’re not moving in with a questionable person. You’ll be able to check out their criminal record, if they have a concealed weapon license, history of domestic abuse, their credit history, and more. Looking for a potential roommate is like dating, only more intimate. Don’t dismiss the red flags.
- Let Technology Help—if you want a little help finding the ideal roommate and aren’t wanting to leave it up to the college, there are three apps that can help you find your match. Check out RoomSurf, RoomBug, and EasyRoomMate. If your school isn’t listed on these apps, check to see if they are associated with another roommate matching service.
- Draw Up an Agreement—many schools will now provide official roommate agreements that help you walk through some of the key issues. If your school doesn’t or you’re moving into a a house or apartment, it might be a good idea to draw one up so that you are both on the same page and have something to reference back to when disagreements arise.
- Set realistic expectations – many college kids head off to college with unrealistic expectations of what dorm life will be like. Students have idealist expectations of living away from Mom and Dad. If they have never shared a room, living with a roomy can be an adjustment. Help them accept the fact no one is perfect, even if they are rooming with their best friend, and there will be conflict, it’s a normal part of human relationships. How well they navigate disagreements will determine how well they get along on a day to day basis.
- Support their decisions – finding a roommate can be a daunting process. Once the decision has been made, support them and help them do their part to be a good roomy. Encourage them to foster respect and open communication to reduce tensions that can build up in close quarters. Be their sounding board and help them to focus on facts and not feelings when dealing with conflict.
- Coach them along the way – as a parent you are striving to help your young adult become self-sufficient and independent, however, some kids may still need some coaching when it comes to living away from home. Spreading their wings for the first time can be intimidating especially when it comes to dealing with roommate conflicts. Be there to listen and help offer conflict resolution, but it might be beneficial to involve a Resident Assistant (RA) to help facilitate healthy resolution and devise a plan for successfully moving forward.
Justin Lavelle is Communications Director at PeopleLooker. PeopleLooker is the easy way to search for people. It gives you fast, affordable, and easy access to public records. PeopleLooker is widely used by online daters who use background checks to help screen their potential dates. Find out ages, marital status, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, criminal records, and so much more! All the records you need in one simple report.