Teen Talk

Teen Talk: Don’t let fears about a future roommate alter college plans

DEAR KELLY: I’ve applied to about eight colleges and all of them are far enough that I will be living in the dorms next year. I’m starting to freak out. I’m not sure I’m ready to go because I can’t imagine living with someone I don’t know. Seriously Kelly, what if I get like some weird person and it’s a total nightmare?

My friend has a roommate who’s so weird and has the weirdest bathroom habits and never showers. They have like the worst relationship and don’t even speak. I’m so scared I will get someone like that.

I know I’ve always wanted to go away to college and it’s been my dream, but now I think I should have applied to somewhere closer so I can live at home and not live in the dorms. My parents will freak out if I say I want to stay home because I’ve never said that before, but I can’t see myself being able to study or have fun if I hate who I live with.

What should I do? Is it wrong to stay home? Or should I try to find someone who I know I can live with? I’m so confused and so stressed.


DEAR UNSURE: It’s the moments when we are pushed out of our box that we tend to grow the most. Always choosing the comfortable road might seem like the easiest pick, but it’s not always the smartest decision. You only get one chance to go away to college as a freshman and experience the dorms.

Colleges today make picking your roommate completely different than the archaic ways we used to be assigned our dormmates. I met my first roommate the day we were moving into college and I knew nothing about her. I’m sure if we had been able to pick our roommates back then we would have never picked each other; yet she turned out to be one of my dearest friends. Sometimes the risk turns out to be a blessing.

Many colleges allow incoming freshmen the opportunity to choose their future roomie. Picking your own roommate lets you choose someone based on what values you think are important in a person, besides just the things listed on the university’s roommate survey. If your “requirements” are that lights out are at 11 p.m. during the week, or a nonsmoker, or you’re an athlete and have all early classes, those conversations beforehand can save you trouble later.

Picking a roommate is a little like picking the best pet. Sometimes the cutest one you love instantly isn’t the best one to live with. You have to consider what your habits are and find someone cohesive to your lifestyle. Sometimes people are so eager to pick a roommate that they end up choosing one that they don’t get along with – even though they like the same TV shows.

Freshman orientation can also be a great place to meet a potential roommate. By meeting someone face to face and getting to know a little about them, you can find a good match. You can pick up on someone’s little habits just from spending a weekend with them. Checking out their Facebook or Instagram also lets you know what their interests are or what they are like with their friends.

If the college you pick does random roommates, don’t stress too much. They will try to match you with someone with similar sleeping, studying and cleanliness patterns. More often than not it works out but there are the occasional nightmare roommates. If that happens, you just deal with it.

The best roommates don’t need to be your best friends. Sometimes being too close and spending all your time with someone can be overwhelming. If you get along, agree on room rules and act respectfully toward each other, then you develop the best roommate relationship. If you have your group of friends and they have theirs and you can share a meal or two each week together, you can be perfectly content and happy in the college dorms. You will meet so many new people and develop new friendships.

No matter who you end up living with, communication is the key to getting along. It’s not easy to learn to live with someone you don’t know very well, but it’s a great opportunity to learn life skills that will help you deal with all kinds of people. Don’t let fear stop you from achieving a dream. The fear of change can keep you from some of the greatest things life offers.

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@ sacbee.com.