Ask a fifth-year: Packed Like Sardines in a Dorm Room

Dear Sarah,


I’m getting really anxious about the upcoming roommate selection process. My best friend and I are talking about getting a double together next year, but I’m starting to get cold feet about it. We get along really well when we’re just hanging out, but our living habits don’t always line up. However, I’m also really worried about not finding anybody to room with. I don’t want to be that one person who gets left out on their own. What should I do?


– Paranoid, Roommate-less Android



Dear Android,


So, basically you’re saying that you’re more of a Monica and she’s more like whoever the messy character on “Friends” is. I’ve never watched the show, so that’s a terrible analogy. Moving on, I completely understand your predicament, and I was in the same situation at the end of my freshman year. I was so worried about being the one person in my friend group who didn’t find a roommate that I agreed to live with someone who was a terrible match for me. I’ve thought a lot about why my situation didn’t work out, and that’s led me to create a concrete list of “Things to Discuss with Potential Roommates.”

Cleaning: This is a huge issue and might be one of the most important. I’ve found over the years that I tolerate my own mess quite well, but being surrounded by someone else’s mess drives me crazy. Oftentimes, this means when you’re living with someone else, you need to increase your level of cleanliness.

When multiple people are living in the same place, it’s important to be considerate of those around you. This is especially important if you are considering living in a house. It’s one thing when you live alone and you leave dirty dishes in your sink until your boyfriend takes pity on you and does them himself. It’s another thing entirely when you are sharing a kitchen with a dozen other people and you leave your dirty dishes in the sink for a week.

Sleeping hours: This was a major reason my roommate situation didn’t work out well. I had class at 8:30 a.m. and my roommate didn’t want to wake up until noon or later.

I know you may not know your schedule for next year yet, but it is important to discuss with potential roommates what time of day you want to be awake. If both of you are early birds, then you can communally make coffee at 7 a.m. before your first class. If both of you are night owls, then you can communally make coffee at 11 p.m. as you finish all your homework.

What do you want to use your room for? Different people have different visions of what they want to do in their room. Some folks use it as a quiet place for working, napping and having existential crises. Others would prefer to do their work elsewhere around campus and use their room for hanging out, listening to music and throwing parties.

It is important to make sure you and your roommate are on the same page when it comes to room activities. Someone who wants to throw a rave party every weekend won’t make a good roommate for someone whose idea of a bumping party is a Disney movie marathon.

While it might seem like a fun, convenient idea to live with your best friend, it is not always the best option. Take these guidelines into consideration before making a year-long decision.