Sunday, August 5, 2012

College Prep: Roommate Dating

As college approaches, rather too quickly for my taste, various aspects of college preparation fall at my feet. For high schoolers, the words "college prep" elicit images of SAT scores, application essays, and AP tests. But once graduation has passed, those words take on a new meaning. Comforters need ordering, classes need to be selected, and roommates need to be selected. For the next 21 days, until I pack my life into the trunk of the car and head off to Georgetown, I'll be presenting a series on getting ready for college.

Popping the Question: Finding a Roommate

One of the hallmarks of the college experience is dorm life. For many people it's their first time living away from home. For some it's their first time sharing a room and for most their first time sharing that room with a complete stranger. It can be a jarring experience if one is not prepared, but pretty much everyone agrees it is one of the best parts of college.

While living arrangements vary from school to school, the part that usually stays constant is the whole living with a complete stranger thing. (Some rare people know, and might even be friends with, their roommate before they arrive.) At some schools, you are assigned a random roommate. Others have you fill out a questionnaire and then match you with a good fit. At Georgetown, however, you get to pick your roommate through a process called C.H.A.R.M.S.

C.H.A.R.M.S. is effectively online dating for roommates. You fill out a questionnaire and can then search for people who match your answers. Then you have to initiate contact and see if they are interested in you. Messages are exchanged. Facebook stalking ensues. Is this guy a good match for me? Does he like Star Wars or Wrath of the Titans? He is country, rap, or jazz? When does he go to bed? How warm does he like the room?

If the answers you find don't send you running for the hills, it's time to send them a "Roommate Request" message. This part is as close as most 18-year olds will (hopefully) ever get to proposing. It's nerve wracking: for better or worse this person will be the one living with you for the next year. Are you really ready to make that commitment? You close your eyes and breathe and press "send."

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