In unique circumstances, can we choose our own roommates?

Just someone who is about to graduate highschool in the USA
Looking for colleges and exploring options

Understanding that most colleges today choose to be “progressive” by not allowing students to choose their own roommate for the first year, I am looking for any exceptions. I have severe social anxiety, and as it seems like getting a single room is out of the question, there is only one person in mind who I would comfortably be able to share with.
Me and my best friend will be starting college the same year and we both have always hoped to become roommates

Now I understand that the main reason for many colleges not allowing students to choose their own roommates anymore is because they prefer to match roommates of different ethnicities/backgrounds, but this is another place I am looking for exceptions.

I met my best friend a few years ago, from another country, and we managed to keep in touch even afterwards.
She plans on becoming an international student, and we plan to get into the same college.
We both will only feel truly safe and be able to survive college on the circumstance that we would be able to room together.
But upon seeing that many colleges are changing the roommate policy, I am lost
What colleges still allow us to choose?
Can it be done?
Will any US colleges, even with the international student roommates policy (like what NYU has), make exceptions for such unique circumstances?

There are many colleges that allow you to select a roommate. Contact your specific college’s housing office and ask.


Where the college allows selecting your own roommate in a dorm room, you and the intended roommate both need to be in the same dorm and same type of room, and both need to select each other.

There are many colleges that allow you to choose your roommate. You may also qualify for an accommodation of a single room if you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and a doctor that’s willing to provide documentation.


Where did you hear this from? I don’t think it’s true and am not sure why it would be labeled progressive. I believe most colleges allow roommates to select each other.


This is absolutely true. Most schools have at least some single rooms and if you have a medical reason for needing one the school will accommodate.


Yes! I have personal experience with this, although I had medical issues that made the single room an accommodation.

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Agreeing with all the other posters: there are many colleges that let you choose your roommate, plenty that have singles for first year students, and even more that will provide a single for a new student with a documented need.

However, I am going to address different parts of your post.

First, your circumstances are not remotely unique. Teenagers saying they they ‘have’ to be with their friend are plentiful, and sadly, teenagers with diagnosed anxiety disorders are not rare.

Second, and more importantly, this:

is making a very small box for yourself. The first challenge- for both of you- is identifying a college to which you can both be accepted, and that you can both afford. This is a real challenge.

Admissions rates for international students are a fraction of the rate for US students, and US college costs are a multiple of costs in other countries. So your friend will have to be accepted by the same college as you, and have parents who are willing to pay many tens, even hundreds, of thousands more than if they stayed in their home country. What happens if either or both of those things do not come to pass? Will you live at home and commute to a local college?

Go ahead and do some better homework, and look at the actual policies of different colleges. But don’t structure your entire college path around such a slender thread as being with one person.


Have you talked to your parents about this? That might be a good place to start. What year in high school are you?

One of my sons attends a liberal arts college. A perk of applying ED is that those kids are eligible for a single (not everyone eligible gets one). He had to explain why he wanted one. We think the thing that tipped the scale is that he talks, sometimes at normal volume, in his sleep. He got a single!

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I agree with @collegemom3717

You have made numerous assumptions about the college.

  • not being able to select a roommate

  • being admitted into the same college

  • affordability for your international friend

You are already picturing a roommate without event thinking about your admission status. You can’t have a room if you are not admitted to a campus.
You can ask about the roommate situation after your friend has found an affordable college that might admit both of you. As an international student, her chances are limited.

Contact the Office of Residential Life at the college you plan to attend. Only they can answer your question with certainty.

If you find you do need an exception to choose your roommate I’d contact the Office of Disability at the college and see if there is any documentation you can provide (ex. a formal diagnosis backed by testing from a doctor) that would cause them to make an exception.

Campuses strive to be safe, but you can’t assume that having one particular roommate will keep you “safe”

Is this the only part of your social anxiety? Living in a dorm with others?

What did your physician say about your social anxiety?
Will you be able to take classes with others?
Will you be able to eat with others?
Will you be able to communicate effectively with your professors and TA’s?
Will you be taking most of your courses online since your social anxiety may be impacted with access to others?

What type of high school do you go to now? Are you homeschooling?
What major are you considering? How do plan to navigate jobs post college?

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I am homeschooled, and as the oldest in my family and first to be homeschooled, I guess my problem is that I don’t really have much guidance on where to start with any of this.
It’s so new to us all
I am thinking of something in the arts/design field. I am not completely sure, but that is what I’m leaning towards

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It’s not the only part, but it’s what I am most worried about. I should’ve mentioned in my thread that I am homechooled, so I’m not usually around many people.
By “safe”, I just meant that having someone I know well with me will help with the adjustment for us both. I will try to communicate well with my teachers/other students, but that isn’t something I’m particularly good at most of the time. As far as eating with others goes, I can maybe handle it in a cafeteria setting, as long as it’s not too much.
I have not been to a therapist (honestly, my parents don’t really believe in therapists/psychologist stuff) but it’s quite obvious to me (and probably to everyone else…) that I have it

Thanks for the advice. I’m just not sure if social anxiety is enough to qualify for that

We have talked about it. Mainly my assumptions are based on the fact that most colleges these days do not allow first year students any say in their roommates.
I am not sure how limited the chances are, as we are both (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) considered those more intelligent, creative types. So I would say the chances aren’t too low
But I’m not sure
I guess it’s easier said once we choose a college, but I feel like I’m starting from the beginning, so I just like to try to know most things in advance.

I am in my final year of high school (senior year) and I should mention that I have done homeschooling my entire life. I am not sure what colleges allow for a single, but it doesn’t seem like many. And the chances of getting one seem slim

We have similar interests and skill levels.
We are both considered creative and fairly smart
Also, her parents have already agreed to let her study in the US a long time ago (they feel it’s better that way, even though it is more expensive)
And for me, “safe” means being with someone who I am used to. Someone who knows me
Unless I can get a single room, being forced to room with a stranger will just make everything so much more difficult.
Of course I wouldn’t just “stay at home” if it is not actually possible- but I will try to get a single room in a good college
I know there are challenges, but it’s not impossible. I was only asking advice

I read this in some actual college articles
They choose to put students of randomly selected backgrounds together to make the college seem more successful (assuming they can make the roommates work it out)