All of these questions will eventually develop into conversations that will really help you build rapport with your roommate. Just make sure you’re not that “really annoying” roommate that administers these questions like he’s interviewing someone for a job.
If you ask this and your roommate does know people it’s a fantastic segue into “how they know them”, ” if they intend on hanging out with them a lot”, and may even lead to you meeting the other person your roommate knows. Just make sure not to be that douche that invites yourself to go out with them.
If they don’t know anyone then it can lead to both of you planning out stuff to do based on your mutual fear of failing to make new friends on campus (don’t worry, you will).
What’s your schedule like on most days? (Early / late riser, bedtime, etc.)
Maybe you could walk to classes with your roommate if you both have to get up early. Or maybe he or she has a break around the same time as you, and you could get something to eat. Knowing someone else’s schedule is quite beneficial when it comes to scheduling and planning.
What is your hometown like?
Everyone loves championing, or damning their hometown when they first get to college. It’s just one of those things. Ask your roommate where they’re from and why they hated or liked it. It is a conversation that can easily eat up an hour of time.
Do you have any idea what you want your major to be?
You’re going to elicit a lot of detail with this question. That is, assuming that your roommate knows what they want to do with their life (which most likely isn’t the case).
If they don’t know what they want to major in you can ask them about what kind of classes they are taking during the semester, and dig a little deeper.
What kind of music are you into?
Music is obviously a huge topic, and it’s an inexhaustible source of conversation for both roommates. If you like the same music you can share songs, and if you disagree on music you can jest about how awful the other person’s music taste is.
Favorites: color, band, movie, animal, TV show….etc., really anything?
You can play the favorites game all night. Although, it does get really annoying once you’ve gone through 80 “favorites” questions, and it starts to feel like a really cheesy first date exercise.
Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
Find out if your roommate has a girlfriend or boyfriend, and you have something that you can routinely talk to your roommate about. This is assuming that they like their girlfriend or boyfriend. However, be warned… opening this door and you might not ever be able to shut it. It’s sometimes annoying to hear your roommate talk about his or her significant other all the time.
Do you have any siblings?
Find out if your roommate has any siblings, and they could probably talk about them for a while. You can also find out a lot about someone’s family life from this question. It’s a great way to find out about a person’s family values.
Why this particular school, where else did you apply?
This question is a good way to covertly find out what your roommate really wants to get out of school. Most of the time college students really don’t know, so they’ll parrot some half-baked explanation that they’re parents came up with. Either way it’s a good question to figure out what your roommate really values academically.
Do you have any hobbies?
You can tell a lot about someone by their hobbies. Maybe they like building Iphone apps, or perhaps they’re perpetually reading online fashion blogs. This question will really get to the essence of what someone really enjoys out of life. Maybe you two will have the same hobby!
Play any sports in high school?
Obviously you’ll probably have an inkling if someone played sports in high school, and won’t really have the need to ask. However, this question is a great way to get the show on the road when it comes to joining some intramural sports together, or starting a club team.
What are you most anxious about for college?
This question is kind of straightforward, but it gets your roommate to open up a little. If you’re a guy you probably won’t ask something like this, but if you’re a girl perhaps this is something you could ask. It helps you identify with your roommate on shared common fears.
Interested in any extracurriculars?
Find out if someone is going to be joining a frat, sorority, clubs, intramurals, getting a job, and hundreds of other things. Maybe if you share some of the same interests you can do some of these things together.
How do you study? (Do you need silence, do you go to the library, etc.)
This question will help you avoid possible conflict when it comes to disturbing your roommate’s daily routine. If they like to study in silence you will know not to play music when they’re reading or have people over when they have a big test the next day.
Do you have a job?
Your roommate probably won’t have a job when they first get to college, but it can lead to a conversation about crappy jobs that they’ve had before. Conversations about shitty jobs are always a great source of entertainment.
What are you cool/not cool with sharing?
This is something that all roommates should talk about when they start living together. It can save HOURS of time spent arguing about stupid shit. “Why have you been eating my cereal”, “have you been wearing my shirts??!?” “WTF”….. It’s all stupid and can easily be avoiding by laying the ground rules when you first arrive at college.
Do you drink/smoke?
Drinking and smoking are habits that can lead to a lot of confrontation. As with the above question, these confrontations can be avoided if you get them out of the way early.
Do you care whether I drink/smoke in our room?
Obviously this will be a yes or now. Never the less, it’s a good question.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
This is another question to help you avoid the obvious uneasiness and passive aggressiveness that pervades college dorm rooms all over the country. Ask this question and you will save at least an hour of arguing from your future.
What kind of meal plan do you have?
Like the schedule questions, this one lets you know if your roommate is going to be eating at the caf regularly and can lead to you going to get meals together instead of on your own.