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Brooke Holbert (The Battalion via U-WIRE)/COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Finding a suitable roommate is no simple task.

Unlike Mom and Dad, the roommate does not look on the bad moods that accompany bad days with unconditional love.

Cleanliness, money management, academic attitude, sociability, smoking and religious preference are just a few of the issues that can create irreconcilable differences between two individuals. What is "introverted" to one is snobby to another, "fun-loving" can appear inconsiderate, and untidiness is not "creative."

To find the ideal roommate, and avoid a Single White Female situation, a little roomie research is recommended.

Marta Catka, a senior management major and past officer of Off-Campus Aggies, suggests meeting with possible roommates and bringing all the pros and cons of your personality to the table.

"Have lunch with a potential roommate, bring a list of questions, and be completely frank and honest about yourself. You don't want to pick a roommate just to have one."

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS

Paying phone bills, cable bills, electricity bills, grocery bills and rent are some of the less glamorous aspects of living away from home.

"The most important thing is to find a roommate with fiscal responsibility," said Bryan-College Station apartment owner Alfred Lehtonen. "When the other person has trouble paying bills, you both end up in small claims court and with bad credit. Finding someone with the ability to pay rent on time cures a lot of unnecessary grief."

An agreement on the handling of such necessary evils as monthly bills is a crucial part of roommate success.

GETTING FRIENDLY

Living with a good friend is a high-stakes gamble. However wonderful friends are, there are parts of them that only close quarters will reveal.

"I would never trade the experience of living with three other girls," Leake said. "We all have such different personalities. Sometimes we can be really organized or uptight, others it's laid-back. It's a nice balance. There is always someone to give you a little support on the way to a test in the morning."

Remember, a friend and a roommate equals some serious bonding. When friends overlap and clothes swap, this friendship can breed both deep trust and hard-core resentment.

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT

Keeping a clean house is a touchy subject. Opposites attract only in "The Odd Couple."

Geoff Williams, a senior information systems major and president of Off-Campus Aggies, said compromise and respect are key.

"I used to be a lot more messy," said Williams. "Now it bugs me. I have to hang up clothes and clean things up before I start to study."

Splitting up household chores like vacuuming and taking out the trash may be a way to avoid a housekeeping battle each week.

LIVING IN STYLE

The way a person decorates his living space can make or break the sanctuary that is one's home. Almost everyone has something that for some reason, no one else likes, whether it be a couch or a passion for boy bands.

Senior journalism major Nicole Neese visited potential roommates through the services of Off-Campus Student Services and noticed immediately that home decor could create some friction.

"One girl I visited had every inch of her living room covered in alcohol posters and those neon beer signs. Even though she was a really nice girl, I knew that she and I would never work if she wanted that stuff on the walls."

Beware of any person with a collection of anything. A harmless collection of Precious Moments figurines or Yoda collectibles can be one person's joy and another's living hell.

"Ask all of your responsible friends if they know anyone who is looking for a roommate and to keep you in mind," Neese said. "That way there shouldn't be too many surprises and know a little history about them as well."

The roommate is like an honorary family member during college. Students should take time to find good roommates and be honest with themselves about what can and cannot be tolerated.

If problems are too bad, it may be time for roomie divorce. At that point, consider a more expensive one-bedroom unit a priceless investment.

(c) 2001 The Battalion via U-WIRE

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