Having a roommate freshman year is an essential part of most people’s college experience. Whether you have heard stories that are good, bad, or anything in between, I’m going to give you suggestions on how to navigate one of the most important things you will do before stepping on to campus – finding a roommate.
Where to Look
My freshman class coming into UIUC had about 7,665 students (the largest ever!). I would say that most of these people were either living in University Housing or Private Housing, and both groups of dorms usually require roommates. This means that nearly every single one of those 7,665 students were looking for a roommate, along with myself. Finding someone to live with can seem like a daunting process, but if you look hard enough, I think you can find someone you are compatible with.
The process for searching is different across all UIUC dorms. As for University Housing, there is a function to search for roommates within their contract system. This will unlock when you commit to living in University Housing, and you will have ample time after signing a contract to look for one. Also, if you plan on living with a friend from high school, there is a simple process to request them. My freshman year, I lived in Bromley Hall, which had a similar system for looking for roommates. You write a little bit about yourself, share preferences, and look for others by browsing the paragraphs they wrote.
Another resource that is great to utilize is Facebook. I found a Class of 23′ Facebook page my freshman year that helped me find a lot of potential roommates. People posted short things about themselves and a few pictures which gave a general idea of what they might be like. Facebook is a fantastic resource for finding a roommate and interacting with your class later on in your college experience, and I recommend you check it out when accepted!
What to Look For
Now that we know where to look, what should you look for in a roommate? How can you choose someone that you want to live next to for a whole year just based on a paragraph and a few pictures? I’m not going to lie to you, it’s pretty hard, but there are some things you want to look for and things you should definitely talk about before agreeing to room with anyone.
First off is the basics. You want to make sure that you are compatible with the person you are going to be sharing a room with. The first things to make sure of when you are talking to them is that you both like to go to sleep at similar times and how clean you both want to keep the room. If you go to bed at 9 pm, the last thing you want is someone who watches cartoons until 2 in the morning. But that person may be a perfect fit for someone else! It’s all relative.
Lastly, you want to make sure this person is someone that you feel you would have fun with. It’s not a business partnership! This person could be a best friend for the rest of college or even for life, so make sure it’s someone who you could see yourself spending time with. Whether it be similar interests or ideals, having someone that you think you get along with is essential to having a good dorm experience.
Going random is something you have definitely heard stories about on both sides of the spectrum. Some people say it was bad and some people say it was the best decision they ever made. I think that going random is definitely a great option if you are trying to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone.
If you are willing to make compromises and meet someone completely new, then I think that going random might be for you. Also, if you cannot find someone through your search, then this is a perfectly okay option to fall back on! Everyone who attends the University of Illinois is part of one big community, and your random roommate will be no exception. There is nothing wrong with going random, and I have a lot of friends who chose to go random and had a fantastic experience.
Picking your roommate doesn’t have to be stressful; it is supposed to be fun! Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you and UIUC is a caring and fun community, so it’s hard to go wrong with anyone you pick. And you can always fall back on a friend from high school or just going random. I had a great time both finding my roommate and living with them, and I think if you put the effort in, you will too. Good luck searching for your future Illini roommate!