Rochester, N.Y.— Freshman year of college can be daunting enough. Imagine if you’re stuck with an awful roommate.
It’s a source of anxiety many incoming freshmen face, but this year the Rochester Institute of Technology tried to make the roommate selection process easier for both the school and students.
“I would say it’s one of the leading stressors leading up to the freshman move-in,” says RIT Housing Director Carla DiLella. “Figuring out who you're going to live with and where you're going to live. It makes a big difference. [Freshmen] want to move in and feel comfortable right away.”
This year RIT used new software called Star-Res. As soon as students were accepted into RIT, they would create a profile and answer a thorough questionnaire about their living habits and personality. Questions range from room cleanliness to preferences about whether the window is left open or not to musical tastes.
Then, much like a dating website, the students get a list people who they may be compatible with based on the percentage of questions they answered similarly.
RIT freshmen Kaitlin Hipkin and her roommate Brooke Milan were a 94 percent match. Kaitlin, a student from New Jersey, saw Brooke, a student from Indiana on her list. She messaged Brooke and the two agreed to be roommates at RIT. Over the summer, they texted each other frequently and even chatted on the phone.
“There was just stuff on the [questionnaire] that we wouldn't have thought to ask each other,” says Brooke.
Kaitlin says she and Brooke get along great as roommates. They are both perfectionist and a bit shy. They are also self-proclaimed “nerds”.
“I thought it was a really valuable thing that I got to connect with someone even before I got to campus because I don't know anyone here,” Brooke says.
Prior to using Star-Res, the RIT Housing Office had to manually match up roommates based on a five-question survey. DiLella says the office would hope for the best, but each year about 20 percent of freshmen asked for roommate reassignments. She hopes this new software brings that percentage down.
Also, under the old method, students wouldn’t find out who their roommates were until late July. Now students can look for roommates using Star-Res as soon as they enroll. This gives them enough time to get to know their future roommate better.