Freshman year of college comes with a plethora of anxieties. Faced with many drastic changes, new students worry about exams, making friends, moving in, but most of all, roommates. For many, college is their first time sharing a living space and who you share that space with is crucial. As some freshman are now painfully aware, your relationship with your roommate can either make or break your time in college.
In regard to roommates at UMBC, there are only two formal options in place for incoming students living on campus. You either request someone you know or get an assignment that is based on surface level survey questions. This roommate questionnaire includes personal inquiries such as sleeping preferences, room temperature and desired relationship with potential roommates.
The inference is that a roommate you can easily attempt to get along with will be assigned to you, but quite often this is not the case. While knowing whether your roommate smokes, goes to bed at 2 a.m. or wants nothing more than a respectable acquaintance is imperative, it really gives no inclination to their personality. How personalities clash is vital to not only everyday interactions but even more so when sharing a living space.
Natalie Parker, freshman physics and psychology major, found this out too late as her “roommate told [her] that she liked video games but [she] didn’t know that was the only thing she ever did.” Parker’s frustrations end far from there as “the school also makes it really hard to change roommates.” Parker “would change roommates but the system makes it where you have to know someone else who is looking to change too, that’s pretty hard to find.”
Not only do you have to find another individual willing to change, but also, all parties have to be in agreement. Meaning if your roommate is unwilling to sign off on the change then there is a good chance you are staying right where you are. Although this is to prevent any further conflicts and keep the interest of all parties involved, a frustrating situation is inevitable.
Even though freshman computer science major Phillip Hilliard already knew his roommate coming into college, he knows that “having a trustworthy and reputable roommate is important.” He believes that if “Alcohol Edu is required, it could be feasible to ask students to take a 10 minute personality test to match up personalities better.”
Some colleges are even exploring outside sources that not only look more in-depth at personality, but also put the power in the student’s hands. Websites like Roomsurf and apps such as RoomSync let students browse potential roommates and communicate with them prior to deciding to live together.
College, especially for the first year, is a critical transition. Negative roommate relationships can not only make this transition harder, but can also affect grades, sleep and mental health. The system in place is like playing the lottery. You either win or you lose and face the consequences for a year.