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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Room With My Best Friend in College?

Aug. 26, 2015

Can I Room With My Best Friend in College?

Question: So in college can I choose my roommate like for example if my best friend and I are going to the same college can I choose her to be my roommate  ?  how ?

Roommate-assignment policies vary from college to college.  Most colleges have a housing form that all freshmen-to-be who plan to live on campus must complete. Often this form will allow you to include the name of an intended roommate. In such cases, if you put your best friend’s name on this form and then your friend puts yours, you will be able to room together. (Note, however, that colleges commonly claim that they will “try” to honor your preference but can’t guarantee it. Yet, in most instances where specific roommate requests are permitted, you will get the roommate you chose.)

There are also many colleges that do not allow students to pick a roommate. The college administrators believe that part of the college adventure is meeting new people and learning to co-exist with someone you don’t already know.

So once you have decided where you will be applying, you can contact the Residential Life office (called by this name or a similar one … maybe simply “Housing”) to ask what the roommate-assignment policy is.  Even when students are not allowed to request a roommate, it might be possible for friends to live in the same dorm or even on the same floor.

There used to be a time when “The Dean” adamantly insisted that all college freshmen should room with strangers in order to best challenge themselves and expand their horizons. Yet, in recent years, I’ve had some second thoughts. While at least in theory, I continue to maintain that learning to live with a someone from a different background or geographic location can be an important life skill, I also realize that college freshmen may now bring issues with them to campus that seem more complex and even disturbing than what was the norm in my own college days, many eons ago. College life in general seems more complicated and demanding too (e.g., even freshmen compete for internships these days, while in my era we didn’t even use the word!). Thus, with so many adjustments to make in the initial months, seeing a familiar face on the upper bunk can provide a peaceful oasis amidst the melee of freshman year.

However, as you make your plans for next fall, I urge you to consider colleges that might be good fits for you even if they aren’t well suited to your friend. You and your friend may not be admitted (or receive adequate financial aid) at the same schools, and it might be wise to part ways. Yet even if you can’t room with your best friend, rest assured that most colleges have systems in place that help match students with those who share similar living habits or interests. Granted, it’s far from a perfect process. Just because your roomie loves the same movies or music that you do certainly won’t mean that he or she will become your new BFF. But as you approach the big transition ahead, try to keep your mind—and perhaps some closet space—open to someone new.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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