Megan Ernst
Megan Ernst

Once I decided where I wanted to go to college, I felt so at peace. I didn’t have those keep-you-up-at-night worries that my future happiness and success would depend on the school I chose.

Then, I realized that part of the decision was the least of my worries.

The biggest, most daunting question was: Who I would choose to live with for my first year of college? It’s an overwhelming question. A roommate can define your social life, study habits and sanity. It’s the first time I had to choose someone to live with—up until now living anywhere but with my family wasn’t an option.

The task seemed daunting. Among 3,000 incoming freshman girls, I would have to find someone I wanted to live with, and I had to find her before someone else did.

I had two real options: room with someone I already knew or find someone new.

I thought I already had it figured out. My best friend and I have known each other since kindergarten and we’ve dreamed about going to college together for almost that long. We were both ecstatic to get into the college we had dreamed about attending and just assumed it’d be a great idea to room together.

But we got less and less excited as we heard best-friend-turned-roommate horror stories again and again.

We knew each other so well and got along so well that we realized if we roomed together, we would probably end up never making new friends. We could stay in our room all day talking and having fun, and when we left, we could end up just staying in that best friend bubble. That seemed perfect in kindergarten, but we decided that we could widen our group of friends if we chose to room with different people. We decided we would look for different roommates.

I was on the hunt again.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to find people. Most colleges have an online roommate matching service. It’s a roommate e-Harmony of sorts. Students make profiles, answer questions and are matched with similar students.

On these websites, you should be honest. Don’t say you get up at 8 a.m. and study for three hours a day if you really plan on skipping all classes before noon and thumbing through your books once a semester. The matching service is designed to find people similar to you based on your answers, so if you lie, it will match you with people you won’t be compatible with in reality.

Once I had a list of roommate possibilities, the real online dating began. I looked through my list of matches and found the girls I was interested in on Facebook. The great thing was, as soon as I made my profile on roommate e-Harmony, other girls had been doing the same thing to me. I had received friend requests from girls who lived all over Georgia.

I friend-requested the girls I thought would be a good match for me, and then I got really nervous. It was time to contact these girls. What should I say? Should I start with “Hey, are you looking for a roommate?” or just “Hey, I see you’re going to the same college as me!” I wanted these girls to like me, so I had to be sure I said it right. I started some conversations, but as we got around to asking more specific questions about next year, no one seemed exactly right.

Devon Griger

A friend of mine from Perry, in south Georgia, who is going to school with me next year told me over the phone one day that he had a friend named Devon Griger who would be there, too, and was looking for a roommate.

I messaged her on Facebook, and everything seemed great. I trusted our mutual friend when he said we’d get along great, and he was right. Although we hadn’t specifically said anything about rooming together yet — just asked lots of questions about what we wanted our freshman year of college to be like, and just getting to know each other — we were on the same page.

We decided to meet in person. She drove to Atlanta from Perry one Sunday afternoon and when she showed up at my house, I was surprised to see my friend with her. I hadn’t seen him since summer.It made my first encounter with my potential roommate less awkward.

We had a great day getting to know each other. The second she left, I took the leap and texted her to ask if she wanted to be my roommate. She accepted, and we added each other to our housing request forms.

Megan Ernst, a recent graduate of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs, is an intern at Reporter Newspapers. She is writing occasional pieces about her experiences as she heads to college.