Living at Georgetown

CHARMS and choosing your roommate

July 31, 2015

Sure, college applications were hard. Maybe you didn’t dream about being a Hoya, but now you find yourself painting the town gray and blue. And now you have your first homework assignment: joining the online dating community. No, not Tinder—CHARMS.

For freshman roommate selection, the university provides a service called CHARMS, or Campus Housing Roommate Matching System (you should start writing these acronyms down).On CHARMS, you and other freshman get to awkwardlypolitely meet potential roommates anonymously based on similar living preferences. If you want to participate in CHARMS, be sure to fill out a Living Preference Questionnaire (LPQ) by 5 p.m. today. You have from June 7 to June 30 to find yourself a life partnerroommate.

Here are Vox’s best tips for picking a roommate:

Be honest. Sure, you might feel like you want to change yourself (hopefully, for the better!) in college. It could be a whole new place from high school where your childhood friends aren’t around. But if you know that you’re going to revert to a bad habit of sleeping at 2 a.m. after a few months, then your future roommate needs to know. Otherwise, your relationship with him or her will get off to a rough start (“Can you turn the lights off?” “Can you let me study?”).

Be firm about your preferences. Your dorm room is a shared space. Sure, half of it is yours, but in the end there will someone else sharing those 150 square feet. While you might think that it might be okay to live with someone who prefers a warmer room than you want when you sit in front of your computer browsing through CHARMS, you’re probably less likely to compromise when you’re tried and just want a good night’s sleep. If you’re specific and firm about what your want, you’re more likely to connect with people who share and understand your living preferences.

Pay attention to the question “What kind of experience do you want to have at Georgetown?” This typically tends to define whether this anonymous person you’re looking at is looking to party or to study throughout the year. There are a range of choices from “I worked hard in high school and I’m here to have a good time” (read: I will pass out drunk every other week) to “I’ve been given a great opportunity and I’m going to focus on my studies” (or: I’m going to stay up studying for orgo every single night). If you’re someone who prefers a quiet weekend night with a blanket and a Netflix account, pairing out with someone who wants to roam the streets looking for parties every Saturday night might be a recipe for disaster.

Facebook can help, to an extent. Some people might ask to add you on Facebook and continue the chat there so it’s less awkward. Remember, however, that Facebook does not reflect who a person really is in real life.

Don’t try to actively make best friends. Your roommate may well choose to be in the same major as you, share your interests, and join the same clubs. But you don’t know that yet, because you’ve only met him or her online. Social compatibility does not equal living compatibility. Your roommate will not be the only person you meet on campus.

Don’t rush to pair up with someone. Once you decide to pair up with someone, there’s no going back. You have the whole month to decide. Take some time to talk to other people before you pop the question.

At the end of the day, CHARMS really doesn’t matter. If you find all of this overwhelming and stressful (Why isn’t anybody messaging me back? Does everyone hate me?), you can choose to opt-out of CHARMS. Here, the university takes the wheel and pairs you up with someone based on both of your LPQs. You get your roomie and housing assignment in early August!

From time to time, you’ll hear that people who CHARMSed end up fighting with each other, and people who were randomly paired together became great friends towards the end of the year. In any case, your roommate is not the be-all and end-all of your college life. Welcome to Georgetown.

Credit also goes to Grace and Connorpast Voice staffers, for their insights into CHARMS.

Photo: Flickr via ethicka

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