Prefrosh Preview: CHARMing the freshmen (Hi, Class of 2014!)

We’re about a third of the way through the summer. That means BBQs, beach trips, humidity, and, above all else, the rise of pre-frosh networking on Facebook.

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.

We’ll have more installments of Prefrosh Preview throughout the summer, so keep your eyes out. Until then, take a look at our Facebook page and Twitter account.

6 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: CHARMing the freshmen (Hi, Class of 2014!)

  1. Just want to say that I tend to think using facebook is a really bad idea. For one, as you mentioned, the whole anonymity thing is the reason Charms can work. It’s incredibly awkward to realize when you get to campus that you’re meeting someone you rejected (or who rejected you) as a roommate. Another thing is that going to college is about meeting people and befriending those you might not otherwise meet, and a lot of that comes out of your housing. Not to say you should try to find someone who is your opposite (for roommates, opposites do not generally attract) but sometimes Facebook has a tendency to appeal to our stereotypes. People are (thank god) not the same in college as they were in high school, but after you peruse 4 years worth of pictures of someone, you might assume they are the last person who you befriend. I had some serious doubts about my freshman year roommate when I friended her after Charms gave us our names, but we could not have been a better fit.

    Though on another note- Charms is awesome, but probably works out about as well as random selection so don’t freak out too much about the process. Just think of it as practice for the online dating world?

  2. It’s probably worth mentioning that, unless you enjoy disappointment, you should not allow CHARMS to dictate your expectations for helpfulness/usefulness/competence from most things Georgetown (especially with regards to technology) over the next four years.

    That said, CHARMS is great and I would highly encourage using it and putting thought into your responses.

  3. I used both Charms and Facebook, but I ended up using Facebook to choose my roommate – we only took a cursory glance of each other’s Charms profiles before sealing the deal. A couple of people I talked to on Facebook exclusively I ended up becoming good/best friends with, while at the same time, I feel that a lot of people I met on Charms were really good matches and that I chose a roommate too early out of panic.

    I feel that using both is helpful – it turned out that a lot of people who had messaged me on Charms were the same people who had added me/I had added on facebook from the Roommates thread. To sum it up though, seriously, don’t just rely on Facebook. Living habits can make the nicest person instead become your least favorite. My roommate ended up being very religious, going to sleep extremely early, and being boyish in living habits…which was not conveyed over Facebook at all!

  4. Wow, I can’t believe the Class of 2014 is entering Georgetown this fall … I’m starting to feel really old. Good luck, everyone!

  5. If you want to have a cool roommate DON’T use charms and DEFINITELY DON’T go random. Trust me. Use facebook – you’ll want to spend time stalking and bromancing first to make sure this guy (or gal) is on your page.

  6. Gah. Was 2007 really three years ago? I went on CHARMS and got bored – honestly, everyone is on their best behavior, and it’s weird and anonymous and awkward. I ended up with a random roommate whom I really loved (hi Noelle!), and we honestly only came close to fighting once, via text, and it was over by the time we saw each other in person. My sister, who goes to Vassar, also had a random roommate her freshman year, and they have everything in common and are basically best friends. I also know plenty of people who’ve used CHARMS and ended up miserable with their roommates.

    I think the most important thing about a new roommate is mindset. Don’t go in thinking he or she is going to be your closest friend in the world, but don’t go in thinking that it’s going to be a nightmare having to share your space, either. Be flexible, because everyone has different schedules/tastes, and learn to let things go that aren’t important, as well as how to speak up for yourself when things ARE important. Basically, don’t stress – freshman year is really exciting, and a roommate is someone who’ll be there to share at least some of the excitement with you.

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