What the roommate survey should actually ask

May 10, 2018, 12:20 p.m.

Every year, two students undertake the enormous task of matching each set of roommates in the incoming freshman class. While the survey used to assess roommate compatibility is certainly thorough, after a year of living in a freshman dorm (chock-full of involuntary roommate pairings of varying levels of success), I’m prepared to suggest a few changes. Typical wake-up times and study habits are undoubtedly important, but there are some questions whose addition to the survey might yield even more precisely paired roomies.

What is your star sign? This should be an open-ended question, rather than multiple choice, since the depth of knowledge a survey taker is able to provide in response to this question is in and of itself telling of their personality and consequent roommate compatibility.

What is your Netflix binge style? There are few behaviors more illuminating than whether someone typically spends whole days curled up in a blanket crying over Grey’s or reserves their favorite reruns for one-at-a-time viewings as rewards for hitting homework milestones.

How would you describe your interior decor preference? This question does double duty by assessing both roommate compatibility and the potential aesthetic unity (or lack thereof) between both halves of the room.

How soundly do you sleep? The times that roommates go to bed or wake up in the morning arguably don’t matter as much as the potential for the other roommate to be woken up around those hours. If you could sleep through a hailstorm, the fact that your roommate is an early riser probably won’t have much relevance to your compatibility.

Rate your affinity toward headphones on a scale of 1-10. Maybe you never go anywhere without your trusty headphones, going so far as to wear them even when you’re alone. Maybe you’d rather project your music/TV/movie tastes for the world to hear over a speaker. Either way, you’d probably be better off with a roommate who shares your headphone-related tendencies.

What is your Myers Briggs personality type? Sure, this identifier is a bit of a catch-all for a variety of character traits and habits, but it’s worth knowing. Why run the risk of sticking an INTJ with an ESFJ?

Where do you draw the line re: roommate nudity? Obviously you’re sharing pretty tight quarters, and everyone should feel comfortable in their own living space. But let’s be real, there’s a range of typical duration of pantslessness, and most people wouldn’t want to live with someone on the other end of it.

What is your Starbucks/pizza/Jamba Juice/TAP order? This question arguably has little relevance to roommate compatibility, but each person’s answer should be provided to the matched roommate in advance of move-in, just in case conflict arises and you find yourself needing to ask forgiveness — bribery never hurts.


Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Jackie O'Neil '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 staff development director and the former executive editor for Vol. 258 and managing editor of The Grind for Vols. 255 and 256. She's a Richmond, Virginia native studying political science, psychology and ethics. Contact her at joneil 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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