12 questions you really wanna ask your potential college roommate

Ask away

Dorm with two beds and colorful decor
(Image credit: Dormify)

Getting into college is hard, but once you’ve been accepted and chosen which school want to go to— things begin to get exciting. After you’ve decided whether you want to live on or off campus, it’s time to find a roommate. If you plan on living in the dorms, the school may match you with a roommate or a few potential ones. But this can bring on a new set of challenges.

If this is your first time living away from home, you may not be used to living with anyone other than your family. Depending on the college dorm you choose, you may also be in incredibly close quarters with someone or even need to sleep on a bunk bed. One way to ease this transition is to get to know your roommate well before move-in day.

Whether you plan on emailing, DMing, or having a phone call or video chat (which is best), it can help to have some questions on hand to ask in advance. Here are 12 questions to ask potential college roommates.

1) Do you know anyone else who will be attending this school? 

According to Carrie Rose, life coach, college coach, and founder of Sunup Coaching LLC, the first thing you should ask is whether they know anyone else who will be going to the same college or university. This will help in getting along with your dorm roommate.

“This question gives you an idea if a roommate already has some sort of community at the school, or if they don't know another soul! They may know someone but not be living with them. It also shows that you care about them, and their experience.” 

2) What are your cleaning habits like?

Dirt and messes can be a potential source of conflict for roommates, so getting to know your roommate’s cleaning habits is crucial. 

Rose tells me, “It's helpful to know if a roommate is naturally clean, stress cleans, doesn't care about cleaning, frequently does laundry, or never washes their sheets. This open-ended cleaning question is non-judgemental and teaches you about their natural cleaning tendencies.”

After figuring this out, you can manage expectations and chores. You can even set up a cleaning checklist for roommates.

3) Do you prefer to eat out or cook? 

You might not be comfortable asking if your roommate is vegan, gluten-free, or has some other restriction to consider, so asking the above question can be a better way to learn that information from them. Rose also suggests asking what types of foods and snacks they enjoy. On the plus side, this can also create an opportunity to bond over a shared love of Hawaiian pizza. 

4) Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Finding out your roommates sleeping patterns will be essential to blending both of your schedules. 

“Ideally you live with someone who has similar sleeping habits,” says Rose. “Most college students stay up late here and there for a paper or party, yet some do it regularly. It's good to know what a roommate prefers.” 

5) Are you dating or in a relationship?

This is a big question because it opens up conversations about overnight guests. It’s essential to establish this to prevent uncomfortable situations.

“You both live there (or maybe more than two of you!), and you want to be able to enjoy your space as well as your relationship. Be considerate, and know that you likely won't change someone's habits. So, it's good to ask up front.” 

6) Will you have a job? 

While a job like working at the college bookstore likely won’t impact you, Rose notes if your roommate is a bartender who will get home at 3:00 am several nights a week— it might. 

7) Do you hit the snooze button?

While this won’t matter if you have separate bedrooms — it can become an issue if you do. 

“This might seem like a silly, basic question, but if you're not the person getting up and someone presses snooze three to five times, it can be unpleasant. Good to know how quickly they turn an alarm off so you can prepare yourself,” says Rose. 

8) Do you plan to study in the room, or at coffee shops, the library, etc? 

It's helpful to know if your roommate spends a lot of time studying, or simply goes to class and takes tests. “Also good to know if they plan to utilize the room like a library or a hang-out spot,” she explains.

This will also give you a more realistic idea about noise or when you will both need to keep quiet. 

9) Do you like to host friends for meals or hanging out? 

After a stressful day, you may want to spend some quiet time alone, which can be hard if your roommate constantly has friends over. 

“It's helpful to know if a roommate likes to have people over, and how often. Are people coming over for a meal, to watch a movie, to study, to game? What do they hope to do with people when they're over?”  

10) What are a few of your favorite shows when you want to zone out? 

“What shows or movies a person watches can teach you a lot about them,” says Rose. You may also find you have something in common and plan on binge-watching the next season of Stranger Things together.  

11) Are there any larger items that you're hoping to share with a roommate? 

Depending on if you're in dorms or renting an apartment, it's good to know what items will be shared. Examples of this include appliances like microwaves or furniture like futons. 

“Of course, this is more complicated and important if you need to provide all the furnishings for a living space,” explains Rose.  

12) What do you enjoy doing for fun?

Not only does this humanize a person but Rose tells me that it will give you an idea of what time of day, season, and more a roommate may typically be out of the room. For example, if they love to ski, they’ll probably hit the slopes most weekends in the winter.  

Amanda Lauren

Hi, I’m Amanda Lauren. I’m a design expert and interior stylist who writes for Real Homes, Forbes, Real Simple among other publications. I live in Los Angeles in the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park with my husband, and two dogs, Lulu and Milo. We also have a baby coming in spring 2023. I’m a big believer in finding beautiful things at all price points. There are so many places to find affordable things, you just have to look for them. If you don't find it at first, look harder!