Dorming as a Freshman: You Live, and You Learn

University of Illinois freshmen living in an unknown place for the first time, with people they have never met, share a common concern when they step foot on campus: whether or not their housing and roommate situation will work out. 

Mari Anne Brocker Curry, the Associate Director of the Information Office, offers advice to students and provides them with housing that will give them the best possible Illinois experience.

“New students usually just want to figure out what their options are and navigate those options,” Curry said. “I encourage students to think about their deal breakers. What are the top two or three things they’re looking for? Are they looking for air conditioning? Do they want an academic connection in their residence hall? Do they want a semi-private or private bathroom? There are a lot of possibilities.” 

The University gives students the opportunity to choose a room in their preferred residence hall. If a student knows who they want to room with, they can go on the housing website and choose the same room as their soon-to-be roommate. If a student does not know who they want to share a room with, the Housing Office can help them decide.      

“If students don’t have a roommate in mind, they can shop for someone that is like them through questions asked in the housing contract,” Curry said. “Questions like, ‘How do you feel about guests?’ or, ‘How do you feel about sharing personal belongings?’ Then you can engage in a conversation with people on whether they may be good roommates or not.”

While there are benefits to going through this process, sophomore Eric Parks, who is studying computer engineering and currently lives in Newman Hall, went completely random and learned a lot from it.

“During my freshman year my new roommates were very agreeable and easy to get along with,” Parks said. “It’s worked out nicely because there’s a maturity and respect that we have for each other where we respect each other’s privacy, wishes, and desires.”

Freshman Bradley Zimmerman, who is undeclared, lives in Leonard Hall, a Lincoln Avenue Residence hall, thought his roommate and living situation would have been better if he chose to live with his close friends.

“It would be easier to live with someone you already know because you already know some of their habits and you know what they like or how they organize their room,” Zimmerman said.

But Curry believes rooming with someone you know may ruin friendships.

“If you want to stay friends with your best friend, don’t live with your best friend,” Curry said. “You make assumptions about how your friend is going to behave. You would have conversations with a stranger and be respectful. You wouldn’t assume with a stranger. To me, that’s what ruins friendships.”

According to Curry, whether you choose to have a random roommate or not, this process helps students grow as people.

 “Don’t fear the random part, it’s just another life experience,” Curry said. “You never know who you’re going to share your first cubicle with. It’s kind of the same with your college living experience.”


Sam Tinaglia

Sam Tinaglia is from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, specifically a town called Park Ridge, Illinois. He was born and raised in Park Ridge along with his younger brother and sister. Throughout his life he has endured extreme ups and downs, but he tries to not let those hardships get him down, as he tries to live everyday to the fullest. He's a big sports fan and loves to attend sporting events of all kinds. He's now a freshman studying broadcast journalism at the University of Illinois, hoping one day to become a broadcaster or work for a sports organization.