Why a “Free-For-All” Roommate Search Is a Bad Idea

The transition from high school to college is an overwhelming process as it is. Requiring incoming freshmen to find roommates themselves would simply be another burden.

When I had decided on attending Colgate, one of my first concerns was who I would be sharing a room with. Rumors had been circling that Colgate would replace the random roommate process with a “free for all” search, in which freshman would be permitted to determine who their roommate(s) would be independently. As the only graduate from my high school attending Colgate and knowing absolutely no one else before arriving on campus, this kind of prospect was extremely daunting to me. 

My only source of communication with other incoming freshmen was through social media. I was prepared to examine every profile I had newly added with the hope of finding someone who would be compatible with me based solely on their projection of their identity online, which can be notoriously misleading. I was relieved to find out freshmen were to fill out a Colgate-run survey with the intention of matching students with others of similar living habits. The random roommate process not only relieved a lot of stress, but also successfully found me a roommate that I enjoyed living with.

Replacing the school’s matching process with an autonomous search among incoming freshmen would cause problems. First of all, this would give an advantage to students who were already acquainted with others. Inevitably, friends would request to room together without observing other possibilities. On that note, the free-for-all method would deny many the opportunity to meet and live with people whom they had never met. 

Of course, living with your friends is the best, but not every freshman has friends going into their first year at Colgate. This explains why Colgate students are allowed to pick their roommates themselves after their first year. At that point, people have had sufficient time to scope out the possibilities of roommates after spending time with others in person rather than making potentially false pretenses based on social media.

Unless Colgate can provide a shared platform for finding roommates that all incoming freshmen have access to, the roommate matching process should continue to be facilitated by ResLife.

For those entering their first year without friends or acquaintances, there would likely be a self-imposed pressure to find the “perfect roommate.” This pressure can be attributed to popular culture—notably movies and TV shows—that portray relationships between roommates as polar opposites: either best friends or absolute enemies. In reality, there is a wide spectrum of roommate relationships that does not require people to be either of those extremes. 

Sometimes, roommates get along, but are not necessarily attached at the hip nor constantly fighting. It is normal to disagree every once in a while, but incessant arguments between roommates is pretty rare. Even so, incoming freshman will expectedly internalize this pressure, which is just another stressor added to the entire college preparation process. To alleviate this, Colgate should not allow freshmen to pick roommates themselves and instead should continue with the current method of matching similar students according to their survey responses.