Sending your child off to school requires a great deal of transitioning for both you and your future college student. One of the biggest potential obstacles a new college student faces is his or her relationship with their first roommate.
Parents worry a roommate may prove to be a bad influence over their child. Students may worry that they won’t click with their roommate, or that their roommate will prove to be a bully or a wet blanket. Whatever the worries, there is some reason to be concerned. According to a study published last year by Michigan State and Rice Universities, roommate conflict is a major reason freshmen withdraw from school.
Of course, in some ways the roommate search has improved over the years. Many schools give roommate selection careful thought and attention in order to match students with others of similar interests or lifestyles. Schools may now match students based on majors, or interests. And there are schools that offer gay dorms or housing for those recovering from substance addiction.
And colleges are getting clever about matching students with one another – from speeding dating style interviews to lengthy questionnaires that will help in the selection process. And once a match is made with a roommate, students may have time to get to know each other a little before school begins via Facebook, Twitter or by texting. Of course, social media can have its drawbacks. Campus housing officials say it’s not uncommon to hear from parents who have checked out their child’s roommate’s Facebook profile and found something undesirable.
If the roommate issue is of concern to you or your high schooler, be sure to ask about the selection process at college fairs, on college campus tours or by asking upper classman about their experiences. And keep in mind that roommates don’t necessarily have to become best friends for life. But if a student is content with his or her roommate situation, he or she will be more likely to focus on academics rather than roommate drama.
Ian Welham helps students find the perfect fit college and helps parents pay for it. Over 5,000 families have benefited from seeing his college funding video, which is no charge to Patch readers.