At UMass, you have two options when figuring out who you will be spending your first year with. You can fill out a short questionnaire about your living habits and be matched with a roommate — often referred to as "going random" — or you may search for and request a roommate on your own.
Personally, I liked the idea of having some control over my living situation and decided to try to find a roommate myself instead of leaving it up to the housing system. While I did choose to go down that path, I have tons of friends who went random and had great experiences with who they were matched with. UMass does a good job of pairing people who they feel will get along and live well together, even if they aren't very best friends!
For those of you who would like to make the decision themselves, here are some simple tips and tricks I picked up along the way to finding my roommate:
Join your class Facebook page.
This is the most crucial piece of advice I can offer you! Each year, an official class facebook page is made for the incoming freshman class where students are able to post short messages about themselves as a way of meeting new people and trying to find a compatible roommate to live with.
Post about yourself!
As an easy solution to the daunting nature of messaging someone first, you can post about yourself so that members of the Facebook page can reach out to you instead. Make sure to include facts like your intended major, hometown, hobbies, and any fun/unique things about yourself that will help catch the attention of someone with similar interests and habits to yours.
Message people who seem like someone you'd be friends with.
It will require some bravery, but a large part of the roommate search process is putting yourself out there and messaging someone first. If you read a post and think that person seems cool, reach out! Whether they end up being your roommate or not, this is a great way to start making friends before you even get to school.
Keep in mind that you won't instantly connect with everyone you speak to, and that's okay!
The roommate selection process is honestly not much different from online dating; you probably aren't going to end up rooming with the first person you talk to, in the same way you wouldn't date the first person you met. I messaged with tons of girls that didn't work out before I eventually started talking to my roommate. Through those failed conversations, I was able to learn more about what I was really looking for in a roommate to make sure I had chosen well in the end.
Have conversations about what is most important to you.
If you know you like to be in bed on the earlier side every night, make sure to discuss that with potential roommates so that you don't end up living with a night owl who keeps you up until 2 a.m. That is just one easy example, but having conversations about what kind of living conditions you prioritize most is important for gauging how compatible you are with someone. Just because you click well as friends does not always mean you will be good roommates!
I know how nervewracking finding a roommate can be at first, but hopefully these tips help make the process a little bit easier! With some time and effort, you're sure to find someone who will help make your first year at the University of Massachusetts a great one. Good luck!