An Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser pulls up to Nathaniel Rochester Hall for RIT’s Freshman Move-in Day 1975. Sitting in the car, a first-year student peers up at home-away-from-home for the next year and his brain floods with questions.
Where is my room in this huge residence hall? What is my roommate going to be like? Are we going to get along?
Fast-forward to Freshman Move-in Day 2012 and students already know those answers. The new myHousing portal at RIT gives students control over their roommate search and room selection before they ever set foot on campus.
“It’s basically a Match.com for roommate and housing selection,” says Carla DiLella, director of housing operations. “It gives students the power to shop around for their ideal living situation, an important aspect of the freshman college experience.”
Many incoming freshmen have heard horror stories of the roommate lottery, including Kaitlin Hipkin, a first-year computer science major from Cranford, N.J.
“I was terrified that a random roommate generator would pair me with an intolerable psychopath, to be a tad dramatic,” Hipkin says. “But I was pleased to find a thorough questionnaire on the site that helped paint an accurate picture of my lifestyle for my profile.”
Within the roommate management section, students can answer profile questions about themselves, add their Facebook information and browse for prospective roommates based on specific criteria, profile answers and match percentage. The system also allows people to message and chat before deciding to be roommates.
“After I took the survey and browsed my top 10 matches, I sent a message to at least five of them,” Hipkin says.
“I was looking for a roommate who was in the same college as me, wanted to live in honors housing and shared my enthusiastic personality,” says Brooke Milan, a first-year game design and development major from Westfield, Ind. “When I received a message from Katie, I was really happy to see that even though we had some different interests, we were a 94 percent match.”
“The first time we talked on the phone, it ended up being a two-hour conversation,” Hipkin adds.
Freshman roommate search takes place Jan. 1–May 31. After May 31, students can select a specific building, floor and even room. People can pick vacant rooms or look to see if they would match the student already occupying a room.
“A lot of students do their homework by looking at floor plans before room selection starts,” says Rona Skinner, senior associate director of housing operations. “Some look for corner rooms with more square footage, while others want a building closer to a certain dining hall.”
Unofficially, students have been searching for potential roommates on Facebook for years. Skinner says that more than 70 percent of freshmen used the roommate search this year and that the tool will be open to upperclassmen this winter. The new housing system provides a thorough mechanism to search and find the best match possible, ensuring a positive first-year experience.
“I think Katie and I are going to get along great,” jokes Milan, “even if I have to introduce her to some video games and she has to introduce me to SpongeBob.”