The Roommate Debate

The Roommate Debate

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The Roommate Debate

College is a life altering experience. It is a place where you leave anything and everything you have ever known, to come to a place where nothing is familiar. The summer before your freshman year of college can be a nerve racking experience. You anxiously wait for the day when the mailman will bring you that envelope that holds your fate. Enclosed in this envelope is the name of your roommate. Your roommate can have the biggest influence on your freshmen year. They can turn into your best friend or your worst enemy. You anticipate the day when you actually get to meet the person you will be living with for the whole year. At Penn State there are no guarantees that you will have anything in common with your roommate at all, and that is a scary thing.

As the Housing Administration of Penn State, I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of the incoming freshmen. As a freshman, you hope for a roommate you can relate to and spend your time with. But at Penn State the chances of you getting along with your roommate are slim to none. I know so many people who cannot stand living with their roommates. Two of my friends actually switched at the semester because they could not deal with their living situation. At Penn State we are placed together by major. Two people with the same major are not guaranteed to have any of the same habits, interests, or goals. I feel that this is not an effective way of matching people up.

I researched other colleges to see how roommates were paired. The colleges I researched were: Albright, Bucknell, Virginia Tech, Saint Joseph’s University, Millersville, and University of Pittsburgh. At Albright, Bucknell, and University of Pittsburgh the housing administration requires incoming freshmen to fill out a survey that asks about their sleep patterns (early bird/ night owl), taste in music, if they smoke, their qualities of an ideal roommate, pet peeves, and major. This enables the housing administration to effectively match up freshmen that would be compatible with each other. My friend Maureen, who attends Bucknell, said, “My roommate and I have become best friends and I am so thankful that we were matched together. I think that all colleges should use surveys to match up freshmen. The summer before my freshmen year, I was less nervous about meeting my roommate, because I knew that even if we were not the best of friends, I knew we would be compatible enough to live together.

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It definitely took the stress off the situation.”

At Saint Joseph’s University, Millersville, and Virginia Tech they do not ask quite as many questions. However, they do ask about their habits, major, and sleep patterns. This at least ensures that you would be able to live with your roommate. Your roommate does not have to become your best friend, but coming to such a large university is a big change and it would be nice to live with someone somewhat like you.

While researching the topic of roommates, I came across a website called Collegiate Roommate Search, Inc. This is an online website that prides itself on matching roommates who are compatible. They provide service to one thousand nine hundred and fifty universities across the United States and Canada. The website contains a series of questions regarding: habits, sleep patterns, and interests. The two people who have the most like answers are paired together as roommates. You would think Penn State would
be involved since it is such a big university that prides itself on student life. However, Penn State is not.

I feel that if Penn State had any kind of survey, then dorm life could be improved immensely. There would be a lot of happier freshmen and the school morale would be increased in the process. The survey could include a list of questions such as: sleep patterns, habits, likes/dislikes, and goals. I realize this would not solve every problem, but it increases the likely hood of roommates getting along.

I understand that you may not have enough time to sort through all the surveys and match people up. And you may also not have the money to pay people to put in that extra work. But I have devised a plan that could solve this problem. The students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology could be given a project that would require them to design a web page for incoming freshmen regarding roommate selection. The survey could ask a series of questions, and depending on their answers would match two people up. The teacher would then choose the best site for Penn State to use.

This would save you time and money. The web page would already be designed and you would not have to take the time to read all the surveys; the computer does that for you. This is an excellent answer to solving the problem and the IST students would be learning in the process.

I personally was lucky to be able to room with my best friend from home. But not everyone has that choice. Many freshmen come here only knowing a few people or possibly no one at all. Your roommate is the first person you meet. Many of my friends who attend PSU, had such high expectations for their roommates, but their dreams were dashed when they actually met them. Being matched up with someone who is completely incompatible with you is the worst thing. You are faced with living with that person for the whole year, and that can be a stressful situation.

College is an experience unlike any other. You are faced with new problems, friends, schoolwork, tests, and pressures that once did not exist. Having a roommate should not be part of the stress. It should be a cushion for all of these things you are confronted with. A roommate should be someone you can share in this experience with and possibly be friends with. So I ask you to consider my proposal, because college is a hard adjustment and your roommate should be there to help you through it.

Works Cited

1. Collegiate Roommate Search, Inc.: (

2. Penn State Residence Life: (
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