The summer before senior year, I spent my days researching colleges. I watched virtual tours, spent hours on each college website and even made spreadsheets to compare different schools. It was intense.
I looked into schools known for being social and fun. I wanted a school with a journalism major and a strong Honors college. I also wanted to move out of California. I found a school that checked off all of my boxes. I committed to the University of Arizona in August but knew the stress was not over yet. It was just the beginning.
Since many people only talk about admissions stress, I am here to tell you about ROOMMATE stress. You are welcome current freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
If you are brave enough to get randomly paired with a roommate, I am impressed. Go for it! For the rest of you who want to pick your roommate, get ready for a long few months. Finding a roommate takes lots of time, motivation and effort. As a current student who survived this process and now has a roommate, I am here to help you navigate this journey.
Before I get into all the things you should do, here are some things you want to avoid. Do not pressure anyone to be your roommate before getting to know them. I got DMs from people asking me to be their roommate before I even knew their name. It was weird.
Please also pick a college before looking for roommates or suitemates. It is rude to lead people on when you have no idea where you are going. Just commit to a school first.
Now that I got that covered, I would recommend getting on Instagram and Snapchat. Even if you do not like social media, using these apps will make it much easier to meet new people.
On Instagram, follow all of the freshman class pages. Current students at the school or incoming students run the accounts. Every school has multiple accounts that you can DM, and they will post the photos and bio you submit. Some Instagram accounts will feature you for free, but others may cost you a few dollars.
If an account will let you skip the line for $5 to get posted immediately, do it. Waiting a few months to get posted for free is not worth it.
Before sending in a DM, make sure that your bio is authentic. Trying to be someone else is not fair to you or anyone else. There is no right or wrong. Take off the pressure and write a few things about yourself and pick photos of yourself that you like. Don’t overthink it.
Be yourself, and own it. Going off of that, using photos of you partying or wearing something revealing may not be in your best interest. But if that is how you want to portray yourself, then you do you.
Along with getting featured on pages, stay current on who else is getting posted. If you have something in common with another person, reach out to them. If they ignore you, that is their problem. You do not need them anyway. Many people will be thrilled to get a DM from you! When you reach out, introduce yourself, say what social media platform you saw them on, what you have in common and say that you would love to get to know them. It is that easy.
In the beginning, it may seem scary, but over time it will feel natural. If you do not know where to start, I recommend asking each person you are talking to some simple questions: where are you from, what are you majoring in, where are you planning to live (dorm/apartment), what do you like to do for fun, are you thinking about rushing and do you have any friends going to the school too? The conversation will hopefully flow after.
You should also join the Instagram and Snapchat group chats. Your notifications will be out of control, but you will meet people. Use a group chat to start making connections.
Consider reaching out to some people from each group chat individually too. If your future school uses other social media apps like Facebook, Patio, Loopchat, Zeemee or Group Me, join those too.
It may feel overwhelming, but taking steps to meet people now will make the transition into college less intimidating. Knowing you have friends will make you more confident and excited for college to start.
Although there are many positive aspects of social media, be mindful of who you are talking to and always trust your instincts. Unfortunately, some people have poor intentions. Be smart and remember, you are allowed to block and ghost people. Do whatever it takes to stay safe and feel comfortable. Talk to your parents and friends to get advice too.
Besides using social media, every college offers a website where you can talk to potential roommates. For the University of Arizona, there was an undergraduate housing portal where I filled out a questionnaire and wrote a short bio about myself.
I was able to look through other female Honors students’ questionnaire answers and bios. I could also message them. I had an ID number to stay anonymous and introduced myself in my messages. It was a great tool to meet new people and make friends.
I found my roommate on Instagram. I saw her post on an Arizona Instagram page and reached out. We had lots in common and started talking all the time. About two months later, I was confident that I wanted us to be roommates. We FaceTimed, and it just fell into place.
It is a relief to be done with the roommate search, but I am happy I did it my way. I did not pressure myself to pick someone right after committing, and I turned some people down. It was stressful and felt like a full-time job. Unfortunately, I did not get paid. But, my hard work was worth it.
I know this sounds cheesy, but trust the process. If there is anything you should take away from this, remember to be patient with yourself, and trust your judgment. After talking to many prospective roommates, you will have a gut instinct of who you want to pick. You got this.