Roommates: Match made in heaven How you really get matched with a roommate

You may not fight over whether knitting or crocheting is superior like Renee and Abby do, but you will have a few things to work out with your new roommate.

It doesn’t have a fancy name, but it probably should be called something like the “magical roommate matcher.”  

It’s the system at Calvin that takes you, with your musical tastes and major and sleep preferences, and matches you to another person with complementary preferences and habits.  

The result? Roommates who get along most of the time.And while the goal of the roommate matching system is simply to create a pair that lives well together, some of the matches become friends who live together throughout college.     

Students report that the system works “surprisingly well,” but what’s really behind it? Is it really just a sophisticated computer program that spits out pairs of happy roomies?  

More than just software

Yes, but at Calvin, it’s also more than that. The first step in the matching process takes the information you provide on your enrollment forms and uses a program to create a potential match.This is a crucial step that relies on you, says housing coordinator Emily Nagy:

Be really honest on the form so you get the best match. Don’t paint a pretty picture if you’re actually not that worried about neatness, for example.

Once the system creates potential roommate matches, Calvin residence life staff go through every pair. 

“We pray over every single one, and if there is any hesitation, we won’t make the decision at that point,” Emily said. 

Residence life staff members address all kinds of complexities in step two of the process, depending on the information you provide in the comments section of your housing application. Do you have a nut allergy? You’ll be put on a nut-free floor. Do you love outdoor activities?The housing staff will work hard to place you with someone who prefers the outdoors to video games. 

Now, it's up to you!  

Basically, a lot of care is put into making sure your roommate is the right one for you. But this precision relies on you, too. Provide as much specific and accurate information as possible on your housing application. 

Apply early. Submit your housing app by May 1 and you’ll be part of the priority housing group that gets roommate information as early as the third week in June. 

Once you get here, the success of your personal "match made in heaven" is up to you, along with your roommate. And according to housing staff, this involves three things: communication, cooperation and compromise. Read below to find out how two roommate pairs did it.

Freshmen roommates Zach and Kyle

Kyle+Zach, Third Schultze 

  • Kyle Barr, Waukesha Wis.  
    Major: pre-physical therapy/kinesiology 
  • Zach Veenstra, Holland, Mich. 
    Major: engineering (mechanical) 

What they were worried about: 

You just kinda want to make sure they’re normal. -Kyle

Before Calvin: Kyle and Zach emailed briefly before Passport orientation to arrange an initial meet-up. They decided Zach would bring the couch because he lives closer to campus. 

Study habits:“If one of us has something major like a midterm the next day, we just study at the desk area underneath our beds.” -Kyle 

At Calvin: Discovered they have similar musical preferences, and both love to play Madden football. They’re both night owls and try to schedule classes later in the morning. 

Bonding: Kyle and Zach keep a fish tank with about 10 fish in it (Zach is still warming up to Kyle’s beta). They also head to Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursday nights with their floor.  

Advice to new students about getting along with your roommate: “Don’t be too picky,” -Kyle  and “Don’t take too long in the shower!” -Zach

Freshmen roommates Renee and Abby

Abby+Renee, First Veenstra 

  • Abby Wierenga, Grand Rapids, Mich.
    Major: special ed with ESL minor
  • Renee Bellis, Copley, Ohio
    Major: pre-physical therapy/kinesiology

What they were worried about: 

I was nervous because I had never shared a room with anyone before. -Abby
I was worried that we wouldn't get along. Scared that she would be weird and different than me. -Renee

Before Calvin: They Skyped for three hours to decide who would bring what to the dorm room, what colors they would use and how to decorate.  

At Calvin: Turns out they like the same music (OKAY, Abby doesn’t like country, but she’s getting used to it). They also go to bed around the same time. “The more we get to know each other, the more similar we are!” -Renee  “I can honestly say that we have become best friends. I mean, we tell each other everything.” -Abby 

Bonding: Renee and Abby both love to make things...with one difference: Abby likes to knit, and Renee likes to crochet. Don’t get them started on which one is better!

The things they disagree on? They put them all out on the table in September and created a roommate agreement to help keep things harmonious. For Renee, having some differences was not a bad thing: “It has helped me be a cleaner person. I have also become more patient, I think.”  

Advice to new students: "Don't judge them by what you see on Facebook!" -Abby

Your shared space

Check out the space you'll share with your roommate and two suitemates. Your suitemates, or the people who live on the other side of your adjoining bathroom, will likely be sophomores who can help answer all your questions about the best classes to take, where to get the best coffee on campus and more.

What a suite looks like

VERGE: spring 2013

First-Year Experience