Prefrosh Preview: CHARMS and roommate selection
Along with doing laundry more than once a year and eating things other than Pop-tarts, one of the greatest challenges in going to college is living with people you don’t know. Your freshman floor will be a curious amalgam of different cultures, students hailing all the way from the northern part of New Jersey to the southern part of New Jersey, and it may be difficult to adapt.
One of the most important among these relationships is your roommate. While the quality of your freshman year isn’t contingent on your relationship with your roommate, it definitely helps to be friendly. Your room is, in effect, your home, and the less turbulent your home life, the more you can focus on other things.
Vox is going on three years of cohabitation with her roommate from freshman year, so she feels like she’s in a position to dispense a little wisdom, especially about CHARMS, or the Campus Housing Roommate Matching System. People definitely find great roommates otherwise, whether it be through GAAP weekend, Facebook, or being randomly paired up, but for the majority of you, CHARMS is the quickest and easiest way to find a compatible roommate—at least, if you do it right.
“It’s like an online dating service!” people will giggle at you, but seriously—it’s like an online dating service. And while Vox is in absolutely no position to give you dating advice, here are a few hints that will help make sure CHARMS is good for both of you:
1) Be honest. Too many a roommate pair has been devastated by people trying to look perfect to anonymous strangers on an anonymous form. Answer the questions as accurately as possible (by June 10), and if there’s anything that’s too difficult to explain, that’s what the box at the bottom is for. Do not fudge your cleanliness standards or whether you smoke. Here’s the secret: they’re going to find out anyway. The longest you’ll be able to keep up the façade is until your first midterm at best.
Also, bear in mind when you’re filling out the questionnaire that getting up by 9 a.m. is terribly early by college standards. That might seem ridiculous now, but trust Vox on this one.
2) Be choosy. When you run the search, which will be available June 11, make sure you select the most important criteria. Nobody’s forms are going to be identical, so prioritize, and read their preferences carefully. You don’t want 20 people you sort of get on with, you want 5 that could be viable choices. Don’t wait for roommate-Prince-CHARMing, but make an effort to be selective about who you message. Obviously you don’t have to room with this person for all four years, but you do want as pleasant a living experience as possible freshman year. Take your time. Besides, what else are you going to do, read the book they assigned you?
3) Don’t rush it. So, you’ve met somebody new. And they’re pretty special. You like how they disappeared for a few days to go to a U2 concert, how they love the same movies as you, and that they won a fridge at prom. Even their consistent misuse of the appropriate “you’re/your” is endearing rather than an irritating mark of illiteracy. It’s sizzling up in the CHARMS form. Even so, take a moment. Don’t wait 500 years or anything, because by that time, your precious might be snatched up by somebody else, but sit on it for a day or two before popping the question. (You have to pick by July 8.)
Happy roommate-hunting! Check back next week for a definitive guide to the freshman dorms.
Photo: Kisså via Flickr.