The Dating Game – Your Freshman Roommate Options

Ahhh, roommates. You love them, you hate them, you contemplate labeling all the food in the kitchen, so they stop eating your Girl Scout cookies, and that’s only in the past hour.

If you are incoming freshman for 2015-2016 living in the University Housing residence halls, there are three different options you can choose in hopes of finding “the one”. Psst… You can select your option in the ‘Roommates’ tab of your My UW Housing after you sign the contract. You have until May 7th to choose one.

Throughout my years at UW-Madison I have found the roommate shenanigans to be a lot like dating. Yes, dating. Let me explain.


1. The Random Roommate

If you choose to do a random roommate, it is completely random. You get paired together based on how the random assignment process places you, nothing else. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what your major is, when you signed the contract, or anything else. Fate simply pairs you together.

This is a lot like when the nerdy girl in all the movies accidentally bumps into the popular quarter back in the hall way and he drops all his books. It was meant to be. Sometimes they fall in love and ride on horseback into the sunset, sometimes the popular guy ends up being a jerk.


So it is with the random roommate. It’s a little risky, but sometimes you can’t trust yourself to get right. You have to let fate do it’s thing. You’re going to have to learn to get along with many different types of people now that you are an adult. What better time to start out than right away with a random roommate?

2. The Preferred Roommate

A “preferred” roommate just means you want to live with someone you already know. In order for you to get paired together you have to make sure that you and your preferred roommate both request each other in the ‘Roommates’ tab’ AND you both have to rank the residence halls EXACTLY the SAME. Seriously, if you don’t rank them exactly the same the computer won’t believe you actually want to be roommates, and you probably won’t end up in the same room. If you do everything correctly, it’s almost a shoe-in. There’s no guarantee, but it’s pretty close.

This is the Ross and Rachel phenomenon (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). Girl and boy met. They become friends. After a long while they finally begin to date. However, just because they were friends first doesn’t mean the relationship works out.

ross and rach

My junior year I asked one of my friends to live with me and she said no. I was stunned. Why wouldn’t she live with me? She said that we were too good of friends, and she didn’t want to risk not becoming friends if we didn’t get along as roommates. It may sound crazy to you, but this is a real thing.

Being someone’s friend and living together are completely different scenarios. If you’re picking this option make sure you are prepared to not let a few passive aggressive roommate squabbles get in your way. Better yet, just be open about things that bother you!

3. The Matched Roommate

The third option is roommate matching through a University Housing sponsored app on Facebook called RoomSync. RoomSync allows you to fill out a profile about yourself and answer some general questions like, “What time do you go to bed?” RoomSync will fill in some details with your profile picture and some of the ‘About Me’ information. Don’t worry, no one will have access to your Facebook profile unless you add them as a friend. So no more worrying that they’ll be able to scroll through your history and make fun of your eight grade haircut.

After you are done making your RoomSync profile it will add you to the app, and you can start messaging potential roommates! Once you find someone, you have to both request each other in the ‘Roommates’ tab’ AND you both have to rank the residence halls EXACTLY the SAME. Basically, the same drill as the preferred roommate.

Not surprisingly, this is very similar to the world of online dating. You can shop around and message people until you find someone think you’d click with. Many students idealize RoomSync because they think that if they selected their own roommate online there won’t be any problems. But think about it, does everyone on end up married?


Make sure your RoomSync profile is as honest as possible. Because, come on, how clean and organized are you really?

Also try to communicate with potential roommates on other mediums besides RoomSync. You could email, text, Skype, SnapChat, snail mail, tweet, talk on the phone, or whatever the cool kids are doing these days. Talk to them for at least a couple of days before you decide anything.

Don’t worry about it too much.

Roommates are one of the biggest concerns for incoming freshman, but don’t fret. Roommates must go through a “Roommate Agreement” within the first month of moving in that help them start conversations about issues before they happen. This not only prevents a lot of issues, it also gives you something to reference if something does happen. You will discuss things you probably haven’t even thought about yet.

  • Who is going to take out the garbage?
  • Are you allowed to eat their food?
  • Can you borrow things without asking?
  • Should you listen to music on your headphones or can you listen on your speakers?
  • Do you have to ask before bringing other people into the room?

The more seriously you fill this out, the better your roommate experience will be!


If you are an incoming freshman what option are you thinking about choosing and why? What do you think will be the hardest thing about sharing a room? As always comment below or feel free to tweet at me, @SierraLivesey. But seriously, tweet at me. I want my followers to think I’m cool, ’cause you know, I am.