In this Issue: how we match first-year student roommates

I have received several questions from incoming P’28 families about the Housing and Dining Application (and my colleagues in Residence Life and Housing have been getting similar questions from our ‘28 students). The questions are all a variation of “Did I/my student get the correct Housing questions? It seems like you only asked me/my student a few things, but you will be using just those few answers to pair me/them with a roommate…?”

Yes. It is true that only a small handful of roommate compatibility questions are asked. Those questions are as follows:

  • Smoking is not permitted in any WFU building, however I smoke myself or can live with someone who smokes:
    • I prefer a smoke-free environment – or –
    • I smoke myself or can live with someone who smokes
  • Our room should be a place for social activity:
    • Never, rarely, sometimes, regularly, always
  • Our room should be a primary study space:
    • Never, rarely, sometimes, regularly, always
  • I prefer to wake up by:
    • 6am or earlier, 7am, 8am, 9am, 10am or later
  • I prefer to go to bed by:
    • 9pm or earlier, 10pm, 11pm, 12pm, 1am or later 

The way I understand it, housing professionals have tried this many ways across the country and have found that a limited number of questions around core compatibility results in the most reliable matching, so we ask those questions that might point out where there would be dealbreakers between two people. 

We have found that students with the same noise tolerance, sleep schedules, smoking preferences, and study habits tend to have positive experiences living together.  Students should be honest about their answers to make a roommate match as successful as possible, and their responses to these questions should reflect how they want to live at college, not necessarily how high school life may have required them to live.

It’s important to keep the goal in mind here. We are looking to match two people whose habits are such that they should be able to coexist in a room peacefully. Our process is not designed nor able to match students to a potential best friend, or create a lifelong bond. It will be up to students to build their own connections.

Part of The Forest experience is learning to live with and among individuals different from yourself. Our approach to incoming student assignments mirrors this belief. As continuing students (i.e., sophomores-seniors), students can select their community and choose their own roommate(s).

After moving in, roommates will work through a Roommate Agreement with their Resident Adviser (RA), where they lay out their shared expectations. This agreement includes questions and expectations around the following topics: visitation and guests, study time, quiet time, personal property, personal habits, housekeeping, and communication. So that is the time that the roommates will get down to the nitty gritty of what they hope each other will do – or not do. That agreement can be revisited throughout the year.

I always tell my academic advisees that my goal for their roommate relationship is to get along well enough to share the space. If they are friends on top of that, that’s great. But if all they do is have a successful shared room – but they may socialize separately – that is still a success. 

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