College roommate pairing can be a joy-filled or angst-ridden topic dependent on the match.
Some colleges assign them via automated programs. Others allow students to self-select.
Hamilton does it the old-fashioned way, by hand.
Doing roommate matching by hand “helps us feel like the small college we are. This is not the
most efficient way to do it, but it does have the personal old school touch,” said Associate Dean of Students Travis Hill. Using questionnaire responses on everything from sleep, study,
and housekeeping habits to “specific characteristics about yourself that may have a bearing on your housing assignment,” Hill, along with others, makes the matches.
Not only does this personal matching allow the residential life staff to build roommate pairs, but also floors and communities that are both diverse and that have common threads of interests. Hill was especially creative the time when he was able to match six musicians who played varying instruments together in a quad and an adjoining double. They were performing before first-year orientation was finished. A lover of music, Hill has often built an entire floor around the residents’ common favorite music genre.
Hill remembers some requests that have been a bit more challenging such as the one from the incoming student who expressed an interest in “making chain mail,” as in the knights of the Round Table, or the student who was “hoping to decorate my room in green and pink.”
Due to the ubiquity of some first names and because the process is primarily focused on preferences and logical lifestyle matches, ultimately Hill has discovered that he has managed to place three Katherines or Davids in the same suite. Thus emerge at least multiple nicknames within a three- or foursome.
"From my perspective ... pairing first-years is really exciting ... because we get to know the students before they ever arrive," said Director of Residential Life Ashley Place. "We love reading about their interests and finding who we hope will be their new best friend but who will, hopefully, at a minimum, share living habits that will help each student adjust and thrive at Hamilton. There's nothing more exciting in this process than finding an incredible roommate pair who complement one another perfectly. It's amazing and humbling to hear stories through the years of roommates who became best friends or those who chose to live together throughout their time at Hamilton. It makes me feel like I've made a difference in someone's life and have made Hamilton a home."