A roommate plays many roles: that of a friend, a neighbor, a sibling and a pet.

As friends, roommates will see you more than most others in your life. They will see you when you roll out of bed in the morning, eye-boogers hanging from your eyelashes and the smell of last night's liquor pitcher wrapped around your breath. They will see your visitors, romantic trysts and study buddies. All that time together will teach them things about you, like how often you brush your teeth and what TV shows you watch when you're sad.

Sharing space inevitably leads to sharing your soul. Be sure your roommate can bear it.As neighbors, roommates have to maintain a habitat alongside you. They have to sit on the same couch cushions that you spill hummus on and share cupboards with your frosted mini wheats addiction. Your yard is their yard, and the responsibility to mow through the weekend sludge of solo cups and cigarette butts encompasses them as much as you.

Living together demands a form of together-living. You cannot walk around your house naked – unless they're into it.As siblings, your roommates will hate you. They will tease you for your weird habits and argue with you if you try to shirk cleaning the bathroom. Sure, they will love you and support you, but only if you love and support them right back. Fellas – expect wrestling matches and braggadocio. Ladies – expect the same, but more passively.

There is no tattling to Mom and Dad in college, so be prepared to duke it out in person. Consider boxing gloves, or at least respectful discourse, as a means of conflict resolution.As pets, roommates are unique from most other relationships in that you get to pick them and that hygiene is especially important. Pick ones that clean up their own messes and don't shed everywhere. Slobberers and messy eaters can be loved, but only intentionally. Episodes of uncontrollable excrement will happen; invest some time in setting ground rules and some money in Oxy Clean.

When selecting a roommate, also remember that you'll be locked into a lease for a year. If things go sour – which they probably will at some point – you'll have to decide between reconciliation and the headache of moving out.

The conventional wisdom suggests that best friends may not be the best idea because the close proximity can destroy even the best of friendships. Though that advice may often hold true, it only happens when you and your friend are not used to reconciling differences. If your friend and potential roommate seem to have everything in common with you, consider someone else. Chances are, the differences you discover in one another will strain too tightly the bonds of friendship you thought would hold you together.

You're not looking for a best friend or a friendly neighbor, not seeking a big brother or lovable dog. You're looking for someone who can be each of those to you, someone who will share the stories of their day and communicate the problems of the house. You're seeking someone who can respect your independence; you need someone who has, at the very least, good hygiene.And when you find your roommate and sign that lease, remember that you need to be that unique combination of friend, neighbor, sibling and pet to them too.

R.J. Vogt is a junior in College Scholars. He can be reached at rvogt@utk.edu.

This content appeared as a part of the fall 2013 housing guide.