Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 10.05.13 AMOne of my seniors was on Facebook. It wasn’t a big deal–it was only advisory, but still…

“No one pinged you except your mom. Get off.” I said.

“Nah, Miss, I got seven replies.”

“Wow, how many of those ‘friends’ are related to you?” I’m going to miss these seniors.

He laughed. “None. It’s for college roommates.” Sure enough, the Facebook group was University of Overpriced Class of 2017. On that feed were a bunch of almost freshmen. Next year’s cream of the crop, all looking for roommates.

“Hi, my name is XXX, I like kittens, unicorns, and American Idol. Justin Bieber’s my boy.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 10.11.02 AM“Hi, I plan to increase the per capita drug consumption of this university by 50% and get my fraternity kicked off campus by sophomore year.”

“Listen, if you plan to be my roommate, you’d BETTER DAMN WELL NOT TALK BECAUSE I’M PREMED AND I’LL BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF YOU.”

“I’m like, so fun and AWESOME, LOL. You can be my roommate.”

And the list continued. I told my senior his profile picture made him look angry. No one wants to room with “mad.” Of course no one wants to room with Bieber lovers and stoners either…

Maybe we’re all just a little challenged when it comes down to marketing ourselves and laying bare our souls.

In my day, it was different. The University gave you a roommate and you liked it. Chances were you’d go Greek and be able to move into the hall or house anyway, or you’d be too poor to live on campus and have to go off campus with the rest of the med students. You probably wouldn’t like your roommate, so asking critical questions wasn’t necessary–he or she would steal your food, smoke, bring home boyfriends or girlfriends, or play the one type of music that made you want to die.

But somehow, in the middle of the year, you’d bond over “tea,” and decide you weren’t so different after all. All for the reasonable tuition of just under a million dollars a year.

Burton Hall, University of Rochester. My room was 3rd floor on the left, behind that tree.

Burton Hall, University of Rochester. My room was 3rd floor on the left, behind that tree.

Getting into college is way different today, thanks to social media; it makes sense that finding a roommate should be done on Facebook, too. I wonder who I’d have picked if we’d had that option. Would we have had as much fun striking out to meet people at the TKE Beach Bash our first weekend on campus, or bonding with the seniors on our hall–the ones who made sure we locked our doors at night and stayed safe? Would we have rushed sororities together–even though we choose different organizations? Would we have bonded over midnight intramural floor hockey with the fraternity next door when they came up looking for the two token females necessary to enter the co-ed league?

Part of university is exploring–making those random connections and taking that class you never thought you could take–expanding horizons, finding your path, joining things, gaining perspective you can only get meeting people from all over the world.

I’ve been a bit disenchanted, as a teacher, about the cost of college. It’s difficult to rationalize recommending my students rack up a lifetime of unforgivable debt. But some of them have played their cards right and gotten someone else to foot the bill.  Watching them get ready, plan their majors, talk about their orientation dates, and now find roommates–online of all places, brings me back in time just a little bit.

To my first days at the University of Rochester so long ago. To the hall in Burton, to Delta Zeta, Gospel Choir, dining center, gym weightlifting, Tina, my roommate who disappeared off the face of the earth but I’d very much like to see again sometime, YellowJackets and Vocal Point concerts, stealing trays from the cafeteria and traying down hills in the winter, social gatherings, DJing, waitressing, Wassail, Venetian Ball, ROTC, Greek God, Greek week, foose and pool, double overloading, expanding my horizons…to the people who are still among my closest friends and the great scholars who shaped my thinking. Oh yes. And studying.

Watching my seniors get ready for life, it seems, like just yesterday, it was me.