Should I dorm with my best friend or with someone new?
My best friend and I have been best friends since elementary school. If we end up going to the same college together, should I dorm with her or try meeting someone new? I of course would still be close with her either way, so do I try to branch out or dorm with someone I already know? #college-advice #dorms
Alexandra CarpenterCareerVillage.org Team
Alexandra’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team
This is a great question, and I'm glad I saw it!
I navigated roommate issues for my first 3 years of college (all while living with undiagnosed narcolepsy!) I asked this myself when I started college. I chose to live with a close friend since elementary school just like you described -- but I would really caution you against it unless you have lived with this friend before (which you probably have not.) Let me explain why.
Even when you've known somebody since early childhood, that doesn't mean you know them as a roommate. Roommates play a different social role in your life than your friends do, and that means that different things make them "good" for you. What makes you enjoy your friendship with this person does not automatically translate into a good housing relationship. I felt like I knew my friend super well (and I did!) but once we started living together, especially on our own as adults for the first time, it became clear very quickly that we were very different from each other **in a roommate sense**. Whether or not you are compatible living with somebody has VERY little to do with the interests, activities, and goals that form the foundation of a friendship. It has much more to do with your lifestyle, schedule, daily routine, health/disabilities, sociability, etc. You might despise someone as a person, but if that person lives in sync with your own habits & needs, they will be a fantastic roommate. Conversely, you might adore your friend and be very close, but after a couple of weeks of rooming, you'll discover that there's a whole different set of things that matter, most of which you've never really encountered with this person before. Don't overvalue the social benefits you get from the time you enjoy with your friend conversing or doing leisure activities. For me, those were not nearly enough to preserve a friendship with someone I was incompatible living with.
Me and the friend I roomed with my freshman year...well, we don't talk so much anymore. I think we just learned we were different people once apart from parents (she changed a lot once her family wasn't hovering over her), and rooming together made all of those differences way more pronounced -- to the point it soiled our friendship. I think it gives both people a lot of stress to come home after a long day of study to a place where you have conflict & tension waiting for you. As someone with depression, that wore me down very quickly.
I highly recommend declining to room with your friend BECAUSE you want to continue your friendship. And you can tell your friend this, that you would much rather be sure you stay friends than risk coming apart because you weren't compatible living together. If you decide on a random roommate, it might go a lot better than you're imagining. If you want to shop around for someone compatible, remember to focus more on whether their lifestyle and daily needs are similar to yours or not. It's a plus if you have similar interests and personalities, but you shouldn't make a roommate decision on that basis.
As an aside, particularly keep health & disabilities in mind -- I have narcolepsy (which means I pretty much have to nap every single day), and when one of my other college roommates started immaturely slamming the door just to annoy me, it translated into more than just a petty slight to me. It seriously impacted my ability to function in classes & organizations. The same roommate had some serious mental health issues and had gone off her medication our 2nd year together, and although that choice is her right as an individual, her illness affected me that it felt like I was fielding 2 of my own!
I encourage you to room with someone new, and I think you will be glad that you did! You will have an opportunity to make a new friend, which is better than risking one you already are close to. If worse comes to worse, regardless what you decide, you can meet with a representative from your housing department (someone on staff, not just the RA) and express privately that you need to make a change to your housing situation. They will probably back, so you need to continue to advocate for yourself if they are dismissive of your concerns. Always be sure to keep your mental & physical health at the forefront, make reasonable compromises where possible, and talk things out!!
You may not end up liking the person you share a room with, whether that is a stranger or your friend.
I would go with the safe bet - the best friend! You will have plenty of opportunity to meet new people, but, if you don't hit it off with them, at least you won't be stuck living with them! That's just my take, let's see what others say!
College living is a precursor to adult living, how to own and command your space, how to assert yourself and set boundaries, how to stay focused when others are the distraction. Find a new dorm mate, live life to the fullest and hopefully, your best friend will be there when life lets you down.
There are benefits to either scenario. Living with your best friend does make things a bit more comfortable. You know you can share space with her and trust her with your valuables. However, it may also limit your possibilities of meeting new people. You may only want to spend time with her and not branch out. If you both decide to room with other people, you have a built in opportunity to grow your social circle. It maybe outside of your comfort zone. However, taking a risk can pay off in the end. You want to have your own college experience and be able share it with your friend. I lived with different people three of my four years away at college. It was a great experience and still keep in touch with a few of my roommates.
Consider your comfort with your friend and if you can seek friends and social gatherings outside of the friendship on your own as well together. Good luck!