Finding roommates can be one of the most difficult parts of getting ready for your Disney College Program. Chances are you won’t be able to find roommates locally, and if you do not want to live with random roommates, you’re going to be scouring the Facebook groups in search of them. After completing two programs, with completely opposite roommate experiences, here are my best tips for finding roommates for the DCP:
Look for common interests
Whether or not you plan on pursuing a friendship with your roommates, it is helpful to have some common interests. If you have similar interests, you’re less likely to have problems down the line because in theory, they should be at least somewhat like yourself. If most or all of the CPs in your apartment generally like the same movies and TV shows, staying in and hanging out in the living room can be quite relaxing. If not, you might become very tired of what the others are watching or listening to very quickly.
Having some common interests also means that you’ll have someone to do certain things with, which can be especially helpful when you first arrive and are not able to get into the parks yet, or before you really make friends at your work location. Even if you don’t become lifelong friends or even stay close throughout the program, having roommates to hang out with in the beginning is never a bad plan to have.
Discuss cleanliness in the beginning
Regardless of your own cleaning habits, it is extremely important to have a discussion about cleanliness in your apartment with potential roommates prior to your arrival. Even if you consider yourself to be messy, you should be honest about this, and tell potential roommates– I know it might sound crazy, but there are plenty of CPs who are messy, and who are perfectly content living with other messy CPs. You’re better off being open about this rather than causing problems down the line when other roommates have different expectations for the apartment.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you really prefer things to be clean and tidy, this point is even more important for you, because you probably don’t want to live somewhere that’s messy. Of course, things happen, and the cleanliness level of your apartment may not turn out as you expected either way, but you can at least make an effort to find roommates you’d be more compatible with by discussing this issue in advance.
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It’s also important to note that during the DCP, your apartment is subject to inspections. Even if your bedroom and bathroom, and the common areas, are clean the entire apartment can still fail if your other roommates’ bedrooms and bathrooms are dirty enough. If you fail inspections, you’ll need to have a re-inspection, and you’ll be subject to fees, which are taken out of your paycheck. If this happens continually, there is even a chance that you can be termed from the program. I mention this because you might think that you’re not going to be concerned about the other rooms in the apartment, but they can still get you into trouble– which is why finding roommates who have the same standards in terms of cleanliness should be a priority.
Figure out how grocery shopping will work
While you’re getting to know your potential future roommates, you should also be discussing food shopping. Are you going to buy groceries together and split it? Or maybe you’ll keep everything separate and write your name on what belongs to you? Whatever you decide, it’s best to find roommates who will be on the same page from the beginning, so you don’t end up buying food for five other people all the time, or keep finding your food in the trash or eaten.
For whatever reason, grocery shopping during my first program was a complete non-issue. Everyone bought whatever they wanted and we were all find with someone else having some of our food assuming they asked. No one in my apartment ever felt like we were doing the bulk of the shopping for everyone because it always seemed to even itself out. On my second program my food occasionally went from the freezer to the trash can when my roommates bought food for themselves and “needed to make room” in the freezer for it–it may seem silly but this is definitely something you should discuss in advance.
Morning people vs. night owls
This point is slightly less important than the others on this list only because a lot of your sleep schedule on the program will come from your work location’s hours, which you will really not have much say in. However, it is still helpful to know what a potential roommate who you’ll be sharing a bedroom with prefers. If you go to bed early, would you be okay with someone coming into the room after a long night out at 2 AM? Sometimes this is unavoidable given the nature of the program, and you’ll need to learn to live with it either way, but it’s helpful to talk to potential roommates about this just to understand what their feelings are on being in and out of the room while someone is sleeping.
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Use social media
If you don’t have any options for roommates that you’ll be able to meet in person, the best way to learn about someone is going to be through social media. By following people on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc… you’ll really be able to understand their personalities and interests and determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for you. Google Hangouts and Face Time can also be helpful when meeting roommates from far away, as you can also learn a lot more about them from a face to face conversation. While social media is really the best way to find roommates on your own, be careful about finding them too early–all too often you hear about situations where ‘future roommates’ can’t live together because someone isn’t accepted into the program or someone has a different arrival date. It’s best to wait until these things are set in stone before committing to a roommate group.
Know the importance of financial stability
This point is something that I haven’t seen mentioned a lot in DCP circles, but I think it is really important to discuss. It can be uncomfortable discussing your financial situation with others, but I truly believe that if you’re going to be living with someone for any period of time, it’s important to talk about. It’s no secret that you don’t make tons of money on the college program, and you therefore probably would not want to constantly be spending it on someone else.
This constant spending could even be happening indirectly– a roommate who never seems to have money might frequently eat your food or use your shampoo, and say that he or she will replace it but they never do. Or they might just outright ask for money. Whether or not you help is definitely a personal decision on your end, but I would be worried about this kind of behavior becoming a habit. Unless your roommate happens to be your spouse, I don’t feel that you should have any kind of financial obligation towards them. While you do not know everyone’s financial situation, if you feel like a potential roommate might be showing signs of financial instability, you might want to think twice about living with them.
Follow your gut!
The most important advice I can to anyone looking for roommates on the college program is to follow your instincts. If you’re getting to know future roommates, and you have any small inkling that it’s not the best idea to live with them, then don’t. I had one overwhelmingly positive roommate experience, and one extremely negative experience with my two college programs. Looking back, I remember wondering if the second (negative) apartment I lived with was going to be the best idea. I had doubts, but my current roommates were not extending and I was, so I had to find new roommates fast. I went with the only group of girls I knew had a single opening in their apartment and hoped for the best knowing I had felt bad vibes from the beginning.
After completing the program, and knowing what living in that apartment was like, I do wish I went with my gut and found other roommates (or even went random!) I don’t mean to sound snarky about my second apartment, they all got along with each other, I was just not compatible with the rest of them and I simply had different expectations (which is why it’s so important to be up front about all of this from the beginning!)
While there were a number of smaller issues, my roommates the second time around were not concerned with the financial implications of failing inspections. I was though. I always made sure my bedroom and bathroom were clean, and I even spent a fair amount of time cleaning up their mess in common areas so that we would pass. But we would repeatedly fail because of the other bedroom and bathroom in our apartment, and I was repeatedly penalized financially. If I had been more thoughtful in deciding to live with them, I would have made sure we were all on the same page with our finances and cleanliness, and I could have found roommates where this would not have become a problem. LESSON LEARNED.
Have questions about finding roommates for your program? Thoughts on how your roommate situation turned out? Get in touch with us in the comments!
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