As a freshman, living in the dorms is a one-of-a-kind experience. It has its ups and downs of course, but it will create memories that last a lifetime. It took me a bit of trial and error to find a roommate I was comparable with, and that is okay! The university offers the possibility of switching rooms in the middle of the year if you find you and your roommate are not soulmates. As a Residential Assistant now, I can assure you Housing and Dining want to make sure you have a lovely experience here, and that includes people you enjoy being around.
So, how should you choose a roommate?
The answer to that has so many directions, but here are 3 pieces of my advice as a former roommate and current residential assistant in the dorms:
- Put yourself out there! You may end up getting a random roommate if you don’t try to make connections with people. When I came to the University of Iowa, there was a Facebook group that was really popular in finding potential roommates, and that is how I found mine! The Facebook group is always called “The University of Iowa Class of (Graduation Year).” Here, you can put a little biography about yourself, a way others can contact you, where you want to live, and the type of person you want to live with. As always, the university has a roommate finder within the housing portal as well.
- Ask all the questions. Obviously, some questions have more value to you than others, so ask those first. However, once you get past the “What are you studying? Where is your hometown? Do you keep a clean vs. messy and loud vs. quiet room?” ask other questions. I can assure you that compatible roommates mean more than this. Some things I have found helpful as an RA to ask my roommate pairs is: “How long is your social battery around others? How much time after classes would you want the room quiet to study or rest? Would you want to join a student organization together? This (religion or political stance) means a lot to me, is that a problem for you?” There is really an endless list of questions you could ask, but make sure to get to know your potential roommate as a person before playing 20 questions with them too!
- Act quick. If you plan ahead, the odds of you finding a roommate that is most compatible with you are extremely high because there are still lots of people to talk to. The longer you wait, the more procrastinators you will be talking to and it may feel like you are getting more of a random roommate than a planned one.
Always remember, finding a desired roommate is more important than getting your desired room. Be happy with people and not places, you can make the most of wherever you are (including maybe the dorm that wasn’t your first choice). Have a great time meeting new Hawkeyes and preparing for your first year!