At this point in the summer, you’re facing one of your biggest decisions of the college process—figuring out your living situation.

If you’re heading to college away from home and choosing dorm living, you’re probably on the verge of signing up to bunk with a roommate you don’t know. Before taking the plunge, get some insight into what it’s really like to live with a total stranger from these college grads.

Muriel M., George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I chose to live with [five] random roommates because no one else from my high school was going to GW. It was kind of great to be starting new friendships and a new stage of life at the same time. We were all equally lost on campus, so getting to know our school was a perfect way to get to know each other.

“On the other hand, living in close quarters with a stranger really highlights the little ways everyone—including yourself!—is inconsiderate. Roommates have to learn to balance each other’s needs, and that can be uncomfortable. You also have to be willing to listen when a roommate is brave enough to approach you about a problem. Those are tough conversations to have, but they’re really important ones. Logistics can also be challenging—for us, five girls with different schedules sharing one bathroom was manageable, but it took a lot of communication and flexibility, which takes practice.”

Kelly D., University of Massachusetts Lowell in Lowell, Massachusetts

“I’m so glad I lived with a random roommate because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had a really hard time in high school. I wasn’t great at choosing friends. College gave me a fresh start, especially because I decided to go with a random roommate.

“When I first got my roommate assignment, I went through her social media and I remember thinking that we definitely weren’t going to be friends. If I’d had a say, I never would have chosen her. But, she ended up being a really good fit for me. The first night was awkward, but by the second day we were close. We both were lost and scared and we actually became great buddies.

“A good thing about living with a brand new person is that we were courteous of each other. That meant we built our habits off each other’s preferences. Whereas with a roommate you already know, you tend to be comfortable in your own ways and can disagree more easily.”

Hunter H., Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky

“I received a letter in the mail with my roommate’s name, age and hometown just a few weeks before move-in day. Of course, as soon as I had the letter, I started Facebook stalking. I learned as much about her as you can learn from a profile page—what she looked like, where she went to school and her general music taste. Looking at her profile made me feel like I was looking at the opposite version of myself. I started panicking and telling my parents how I really didn’t want to live with this girl. They told me I should at least talk to her. I don’t even remember who reached out first, but we had to coordinate who was bringing a TV, microwave, etc., so we chatted on Facebook twice to sort out the details. I could tell she was not interested in rooming with me either.

“Move-in day was just as awkward. Her entire side of the room was bright pink and polka dots, while I had a plain comforter and a Star Wars poster. [But] later that night, we returned from move-in day activities and dinner and cried together about how we did not want to be there and how scared we were about living with a stranger. We ended up consoling each other because we were in it together.

“I think the biggest surprise was that this random roommate and I had so much in common. Once we got to talking, we realized we were just opposite sides of the same coin. Together, we met new friends and visited with each other’s families on breaks.”

Everyone’s roommate experience is unique with varying degrees of success and challenges. Signing up to live with a stranger is a risk, but if you’re comfortable taking the leap, it could prove to be well worth it because, as Moore says, “It’s one of the most quintessentially college experiences you can have.”

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