I still remember what one of my freshman hall mates said to me on our walk back from taking the honor code pledge in the Wren building during New Student Orientation. “Dorms are literally the weirdest idea. You essentially take 100 or so 18 year olds who don’t know each other and put them in cubes stacked on top of each other.” That girl is one of my best friends today, and she ended up being my sophomore roommate. She was right, it is a very odd concept but it also creates one of the coolest living arrangements you will have in your life. (Of course there will be that one outlier that goes on to live in a yurt someday, but for most of us that freshman dorm experience is one of the best).
I was very excited to have a roommate. As an only child it sounded like living with my college roommate would be like a never-ending sleepover. We’d stay up late, sharing manly stories and in the morning I’d make waffles. Oh, and hopefully I’d be matched with someone who would appreciate –or at least tolerate— my quirky sense of humor and constant movie references.
As I found out the summer before my freshman year, there are three basic ways to choose your freshman roommate: through a mutual friend, on your W&M class Facebook page or via W&M Residence Life’s random roommate assignment. Residence Life sends all enrolled students a survey that asks basic questions aimed at matching you with someone that you can have a productive living arrangement with – should you decide to have a random roommate. If you decide to choose your own roommate, the only fields that apply to you are what size dorm you prefer and the name of your chosen roommate.
Two girls on my freshman hall were introduced to each other by a mutual friend before coming to school and they ended up rooming together for all four years. They were from the same area so they were able to meet up and see if they clicked before deciding to live together, then wrote down the other’s name on the online form and breathed easy.
The second option is what I like to equate to the online dating game for roommate selection. After being admitted to William & Mary you are invited to ‘like’ the Facebook page created for your class. There you can post little introductions and characteristics you’re looking for in a roommate:
“I’m Jimmy, I like alternative music, adding unique hues to my color coded closet, and I prefer to read only by the light of a lava lamp and (surprise!) I’m looking for a roommate.”
If reading that gave you anxiety (or had you internally screaming, “but I’m a florescent light kind of guy!”) don’t worry, we can’t all be as cool as Jimmy. You will be happy to learn how many different interests or habits exist amongst your class—there are plenty of different people and many options for you to choose from. And then there is random selection.
I chose this last option with the attitude that if it worked out then great, and if it didn’t, then I would certainly make meaningful friendships elsewhere and have great stories to tell my sophomore year. I certainly do have stories about my freshman roommate experience, but unexpectedly great ones. I was matched with two girls and was given the surprise of being placed in a triple. I still remember receiving the email that told me who would be sleeping in the same room as me for ~8 months and where they were from.
I am so thankful I chose random selection and that I was put in a triple with two girls whose paths I may never have crossed otherwise. We became a family with some of our other hall mates during our freshman year, and even though I loved W&M already, it was finding this family that allowed me to call this campus my home.
It is going to work out. Your freshman roommate may not turn out to be your very best friend, or they might. I can’t promise what exactly that freshman roommate experience will have in store for you. But I can promise that there will be support, resources, and great friends to help you figure it all out. Be yourself, be comfortable, and be bold. Oh and if you happen to be the lucky one to get the roommate from hell, you may have to thank them later for the friends you make thanks to them.
– Emilyann Key ’16