You’ve been there. Adding everyone in the ‘Georgetown Class Of…’ group, chatting with kids you actually think will be your friends once you get on campus (and with whom you will end up awkwardly avoiding eye contact), and—of course—the frantic search for a suitable roommate.
CHARMS, that beloved roommate matching service, opened yesterday. As a courtesy to the incoming class, Vox has put together a guide for the future freshmen who wormed their way into our lovely corner of the Internet. We’ve got our tips below, but feel free to provide your own advice (or ask questions) in the comments!
Be honest. Casting a large net may seem like a good idea, but in the long run it’s a much better idea to tell the truth in your survey rather than try to seem like an excessively amiable person. If you don’t want to live with a smoker, don’t be afraid to say it! If you hate country music, say it loud and proud or risk ending up with a roommate who watches CMT exclusively.
Say too much rather than too little. As John Mayer would advise, say what you need to say. Don’t hold something important back because you think it might make finding a roommate harder. For instance, if you like sleeping with the light on, don’t leave that out because you think most people will find it a turn-off. It’s better to find someone who is okay with your quirks rather than create roommate conflict once you’re stuck with each other. Make use of the free response questions to give a broad and accurate portrait of yourself. Let potential roommates know just what they’re getting themselves into if they choose to room with you.
Express your preferences firmly. Users frequently underestimate the importance of the preference-ranking system built into CHARMS. Maybe you could live with someone who likes the room a little warmer than you, but couldn’t stand anyone who stayed up late every night. Show it in your answers and look for it in the profiles of other students. It’s not just about having similar interests, after all. Living compatibility is also important when you are sharing a jail cell for nine months out of the year…especially if you get stuck in Darnall.
Shop around. Don’t let your fears about CHARMS cause you to accept the first person who sends you a message. Send a few messages, answer a few, and give it time. If you think someone could be a good match but want to keep looking, let them know. If it doesn’t work out in the end, at least you have anonymity on your side!
The importance of a second opinion. That means Facebook, kiddos. Don’t feel obligated to find someone through CHARMS just because it’s there. Facebook allows you to get in touch with a different range of people that might not seem compatible according to their CHARMS profile but with whom you may get along great. It’s also nice to match a name and a face to a profile.
Consider alternatives. Housing would never admit this, but CHARMS simply isn’t for everyone. If it’s getting close to the deadline and you haven’t met anyone you’d like to room with, do not despair. Students who don’t select a roommate are left with whomever the system matches them with after CHARMS has closed. Some people have ended up with great roommates this way. Others never filled out their profiles to begin with, and their totally random roommate assignments works out. At the same time, if you don’t feel like you get along well with others, don’t leave it to fate. If you find someone who works, stick with them. If you don’t find anyone, throw caution to the wind! And remember, there’s always Facebook to fall back on.