Finding a College Roommate
Finally, we made it. My daughter, Taylor, is officially a second-semester senior, and she knows where she will be attending college next fall. This journey was by no means an easy feat. There was an incredible amount of stress, tears, disappointment, sleepless nights, and mounting pressure, but once she got in and settled on the school, we thought the next step would be smooth sailing. Little did I know, we would enter another anxiety riddled phase––finding a roommate. Back when I was attending college, most students were randomly assigned a roommate. I, however, was lucky and met my future roommate through a mutual friend. We lived a few hours away from each other, and after meeting her in person, we knew we would be a perfect match. To this day, she is still one of my best friends. Eager to find the “ideal” roommate like I did has only added to my daughter’s determination and high expectations to do the same. So far, this has proven to be more difficult than she thought.
To begin the process, the first thing Taylor did was join her university’s Facebook page for incoming freshman. She also changed her Instagram profile, adding the name of the school, along with the year she will be graduating. From there, she was connected to dozens of young women, some of whom posted on the Facebook page that they were looking for a roommate with a brief description about themselves. She reached out to various girls she found on social media who seemed to share similar interests. In addition, other friends connected her to people they knew who would be attending the same college. It was networking at its best.
After Taylor would get in touch with a prospective friend, she would initiate dialogue. She had a couple of standard lines, such as, “Can’t wait for the next four. What are you going to study? Where are you from? Are you planning to rush?” Some girls would respond and ask questions back, while others appeared to suffer from some sort of conversation deficit, giving one-word responses and not doing anything to perpetuate the rapport. Observing these strange interactions was frustrating for me. I consider myself somewhat of a talker, and since I’m curious about other people, I tend to ask a lot of questions, especially when I meet someone for the first time. Inside, I was screaming to myself: Pick up the damn phone and have a normal discussion! But instead, I’d bite my tongue and shake my head in annoyance each time the interaction went nowhere or wouldn’t progress the way I thought it should.
Another interesting observation I made through this process was how you can gather quite a bit of information about someone from their Instagram feed. Give me a few minutes studying a teenager’s posts and I could tell you a lot about them. For example, the girl with a face full of makeup and large breasts pouring out from her itty bitty, skin-tight top, posing with her hips thrust and lips puckered isn’t necessarily someone I want my daughter hanging out with. I realize I shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and despite how provocative the girl appears, she could be a wonderful person. Either way, pictures are revealing, and you wouldn’t post it if you didn’t want the world to view you like that. I have come across other Instagram feeds of teenagers whose photos are more age-appropriate: wearing genuine smiles, hugging friends, and dressed up in adorable costumes that don’t make them look like prostitutes. Searching for a potential college roommate through social media is just like online dating, where people scroll through profiles and study pictures to gauge if a person is worth pursuing. Anyone who has used online dating services is well aware that sometimes you find a good match, and other times you don’t.
To add to Taylor’s stress level, after having made a few connections with some girls from the Tri-state area who she seemed to like, she would stare at her iPhone screen alone in her bedroom, thousands of miles away in Aspen, strangled with envy when they posted pictures of a group of them meeting up in New York City. With only eighteen years of life experience and a brain that hasn’t yet reached full formation, she created stories in her mind that all these girls are now going to be best friends, that they’re all going to room with each other, and they’re going to be one big happy clique.
Meanwhile, Taylor pictured herself being forced to live with a freak who picks her nose and wipes her boogers on the wall, and, of course, she won’t have a single friend. I always try to talk some sense into her when these fearful, ridiculous thoughts take over, but in a few months, she’s going to have to stumble on her path and figure it out on her own. And better yet, when she gets there, she’ll have the opportunity to connect in person and meet dozens of people face to face. After having grown up in a small town for most of her youth, her entire world is about to expand the day she arrives on campus. She’s going to meet a plethora of young women, some of whom she’ll love—others not so much, but hopefully, with patience and an open heart, she’ll find her people, her college family—friends who are loyal and supportive, silly and funny, deep and meaningful. Until that day arrives, she will continue her online roommate search, praying she finds a good one, meeting new people through social media, and imagining what the next four years will be like.