Roommates can make or break a college experience

Tim Goheen via MCT Campus

Tim Goheen via MCT Campus

In roommate parlance, potluck describes the situation where students fill out a questionnaire and let the college assign a roommate. Predetermined means rising freshmen identify their own roommates.

Which is better? Both predetermined and potluck options offer pros and cons:

Predetermined pros

You know each other well and hopefully understand the other’s foibles. They are someone you can trust. It’s often easier to meet other people as a “team.” Your parents may feel safer having you live with someone they know. You will have a built-in support system.

Predetermined cons

You may allow yourself to become dependent socially on your roommate and not stretch yourself. You may figure out that living together was not such a good idea and it might ruin a wonderful relationship. You may end up shutting out other friendships.

Potluck pros

You may meet your new best friend. You’ll mature as you live together and compromise. You will learn about someone from somewhere that might be very different from you. You can reinvent yourself and create new experiences with someone different.

Potluck cons

You could end up living with the “roommate from hell” and find yourself in confrontational situations that could be disruptive to your freshman-year experience. If you choose to go potluck, fill out the questionnaire honestly, even if it means revealing some warts. Remember the fine art of compromise as you and your new roommate make both minor decisions, such as what color carpet to purchase, and bigger stuff, such as how to handle overnight guests.

– Lee Bierer, McClatchy Newspapers