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Roommates part of college education

By Sarah Gambles

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Sept. 4 2011 12:12 a.m. MDT

When potential roommates can look one another up on Facebook, they will form preconceived notions before ever meeting them. Students know if their future roommate will be a computer geek, a homecoming queen-type or if they are obsessed with cats before ever seeing them in person. New York Times writer Peggy Orenstein said college was her time to reinvent herself and decide who she really wanted to be as an adult. "College was my big chance to doff the roles in my family and community that I had outgrown, to reinvent myself, to get busy with the embarrassing, exciting, muddy, wonderful work of creating an adult identity. Can you really do that with your 450 closest friends watching?" Orenstein said.

However, an Indiana study found that being able to keep in touch with old friends on Facebook while being able to make new friends increases an individual's social capital or relationship resources. It also found that having Facebook or online friends before college can increase awareness about the future roommate and their needs and make for good starting ground.

For some students, having some information about a future roommate helps reduce awkwardness on first meetings. The first day of college involves deciding who gets which side of the room, what bedtimes to set among other items to discuss for new roommates. These roommate decisions must be determined within the first days of knowing each other all while trying to figure out class schedules, meet new people and getting over homesickness. Kayra said sometimes roommates can make or break a college experience.

"They make 100 percent difference because you kind of take on their personality," Kayra said. "You're around each other all the time. If they go out all the time, you're more likely to go out and not get as good of grades."

It's up to individuals to decide to choose their roommate or to look them up on Facebook before living together. Do you want to know if your roommate is creepily obsessed with Star Wars action figures before or wait to find out the first day when they unload a suitcase full of Wookies, Luke Skywalkers and Jar Jar Binks, and have a great story to tell?

EMAIL: sgambles@desnews.com

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