BOSTON (CBS) – Remember when you went to college, if you were lucky enough to do so, how the first adult challenge of the college experience was dealing with the complete stranger who is sharing your dorm room?

Those were the good old days (or maybe the bad old days if you got stuck with a total dud back then).

These days, reports Beth Teitell in yesterday’s Globe, many colleges – including UMass/Amherst, BC, BU and Northeastern – let the kids choose their roommates in advance after an online dating period over the summer.

Is this a good idea?

Again, if you roomed with a nightmare at college, you might say it makes some sense to let the kids pair off themselves.

But apparently there are problems cropping up.

The courting period can produce friction and rejection. Consider the horror one campus expert described to the Globe: “You can show up on campus already having people on the quad you’re trying to avoid.”

Others point out the valuable life lesson of having to handle a new situation that’s “out of your comfort zone,” and that makes sense. But the “in-group and … out-group” that are apparently formed by roommate recruitment is a telling life lesson itself, a taste of the adult world ahead that’s also out of the comfort zone.

Some colleges are shunning this practice out of principle, and more power to them. In the meantime, the refreshingly candid comments of one BU official to the Globe about why they do it, also serves as a practical life lesson for the kids.

“We’re working in two worlds,” he says. “An educational world, where there’s a chance to make an impact, and a consumer world, where if it’s going to make them happy, you do it.”

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.



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