Sometime between April and early June, you'll receive materials about housing on campus. Pay close attention to the forms you receive and dates by which you must return those forms to the school. In some cases, late return of the forms will mean that you are placed on a waiting list or are not eligible at all for campus housing.
One of the most important forms in this packet is the questionnaire that will be used to match you with a roommate. There are a few key pieces of advice you should heed when filling out these forms. First, fill out these forms by yourself. Parents often want to fill them out with you or even complete them on your behalf, but it is important that this information represents you and your preferences. Second, be completely honest. If you smoke, say so — even if your parents don't know it. If you truly like classical music, mention this, even if you've been made fun of for it in the past. Third, remember that the survey is a snapshot of you at this moment. By November you probably will have changed some of your preferences because of your new life at college. The same will be true for your roommate. You will each start on similar footing and will change over the course of the semester. Be prepared to deal with these changes.
Should You Choose a Roommate?
Some schools will give you the opportunity to request a particular roommate. However, almost every housing professional you can ask will advise against selecting a friend as a roommate. Living with a friend is much different than hanging out with him. College may seem like a large and unfriendly place — intimidating to someone new. But rather than live with your friend, try to live near him. You will benefit more from having another room to visit and the two of you may make twice as many friends by living apart. You will also be free to be yourself, even if that means being different than you were in high school.
Residence Halls and Learning Communities
If you are given the opportunity to request a particular residence hall, consider your choices carefully. One hall may appear to have better amenities, but is actually located on the fringe of campus. Some buildings will have traditional rooms with shared bathrooms; others will be arranged in suites with bathrooms shared only by a handful of people. Most buildings will house men and women, sometimes on the same floor, while others will be for one gender only. Think about your daily life and your preferences when choosing a particular hall, and resolve to make the best of whichever hall you eventually choose.
Some colleges have begun offering new students the chance to live in learning communities. These groups are usually housed together on one floor of a residence hall or in a suite-style building. Most learning communities are organized around a particular class, or a special interest such as leadership, the environment, or service. Choosing a learning community often means agreeing to participate in extra work outside of class, including workshops, field trips, and discussion groups in your residence hall. However, early research shows that students who participate in learning communities are more likely to stay at their college and report higher levels of satisfaction than those who do not. Learning communities are not for everyone, but they are worth serious consideration.