Last spring, Robyn Wolfish noticed Nikki Geffen’s post on Facebook saying she would be attending USC FreshFest, a program hosted by USC Hillel for incoming freshmen. Wolfish immediately messaged Geffen, predicting that the two might be similar enough to make good roommates.
The two girls are just one example of a growing trend — incoming freshmen search for classmates on Facebook and other networking sights in hopes of connecting with a potential roommate.
Unlike a number of universities, USC gives students the opportunity to request a roommate. Though some freshmen ask to live with students they know from high school, others find roommates through social networking sites, using limited information to guess who might be a good fit.
With the enrollment deadline quickly approaching, students in the incoming freshmen class are now filling out housing applications and making the decision whether to request a roommate or have one chosen at random by the university.
Britanny Cheng, an incoming freshman majoring in environmental studies, is currently using Facebook to connect with her future classmates.
“I plan on finding a roommate online because it gives me insight on who my new roommate will be,” Cheng said. “It provides me with a great sense of security that my roommates and I will be compatible.”
For Wolfish, a freshman majoring in print journalism, and Geffen, a freshman majoring in public relations, Facebook was the best method to find a similar roommate.
“We started talking and found out a lot about each other,” Wolfish said.
Geffen said their similar religious backgrounds and similar majors helped the two girls build a connection.
Both girls said they would recommend this way of finding a roommate to incoming students.
“If you see somebody that sounds compatible, don’t be afraid to talk to them,” Wolfish said.
Though students think that finding a roommate online will decrease the stress of rooming with somebody they do not know, some say this is not necessarily true.
Amy Johnson, associate dean of students in the Division of Student Affairs, said that no research proves that students will remain at a university if they select their own roommate rather than having a roommate selected for them by the university.
“Often what you find when students self-select is they choose someone with a lot in common with them or a friend,” Johnson said.
She noted that rooming with friends does not always work out. Johnson said the most important thing is teaching students how to engage in successful relationships with their roommates.
“There’s no magic solution out there or every university would be using it,” she said.
Many students said they feel that finding roommates on Facebook helps prevent a bad first-year experience, but not all students endorse this method.
Shayla Carter, a freshman majoring in international relations, had her roommate chosen randomly by USC Housing. Carter had to switch rooms mid-year because she did not get along with the roommate she had been randomly assigned.
“We didn’t connect very well as people,” Carter said.
Still, Carter said she would prefer having her roommate randomly chosen over using social networking to find somebody.
“I don’t think Facebook is a good indicator because you only put what you want people to know about you,” Carter said, noting that her new roommate was also chosen randomly and they have not had problems.
Freshmen roommates Jennah Blau and Carra Johnson agree. Though they did not pre-select each other, they have had no problems getting along this year.
“I love my roommate and we get along great,” said Carra Johnson, a psychology and human performance major. “I would definitely do random housing again.”