Using a page from companies that guarantee you can “find the perfect mate” by using their services, General Meters™ has developed a software package that allows students to find their future roommates. The web-based program is available to any college, even those who don’t utilize General Meters’ University One-Card System™, said the company’s Fred Emery, systems marketing.
Engineers began working on the company’s new University One-Card Housing System™ about seven months ago. “We’ve taken input from a number of clients and we’re now ready to launch,” said Mr. Emery. Adding, “everything that General Meters does is developed in-house.”
Using the Life Style Profile™ component of the University One-Card Housing System™, students “can respond online to their preference of roommates, their lifestyles, etc.,” said Mr. Emery. “Students will get a match from various students, then they have the option of contacting these people.”
The questions are geared toward campus life and hopefully, the end result would yield “people they want to live with,” he said. For example: Are you a smoker? Do you sleep with the lights on or off? With your stereo on or off? What time do you get up? What about room temperature, do you like it hotter or colder? Do you study in your room or do you go to a separate study area?
How does the roommate matching process work?
“We ask about their living habits as well as their social habits, such as, do they intend to join a social organization (fraternity/sorority)?” said Mr. Emery. “Our questions are geared to develop a sense of someone’s attributes and what they do on a daily basis.”
Once the data is in place, students can search and sort potential roommates based on order of importance, such as whether they’re a smoker, he said.
After completing the series of questions, the system will match the closest 20 Life Style Profiles™ to that of the searching student, for his/her review. These profiles are then displayed without identifying information. In other words, at this stage, it’s simply a blind search. The student knows there are one or several students meeting his/her criteria.
The searching student then sends the Life Style Profile™ and contact information to those he/she feels are good candidates, along with a message advising that person that he/she would like to further investigate the possibility of being roommates. The information is automatically forwarded to the email address of the student(s) selected. If the recipient agrees that his/her life styles are compatible, communications can then be opened between the two students, allowing the prospective roommates get to know each other, said Mr. Emery.
“This process insures the highest probability of roommate compatibility and therefore satisfaction, which in the final analysis is our primary job,” said Mr. Emery. And, of course, the college is relieved of the responsibility of having to match roommates.
When the prospective roommates agree that they wish to spend the next semester or two together, they again go online and fill in a form on the website. The system then automatically lists them as roommates for the coming term. Again, the system does the work of recording roommates, freeing up college administrators to concentrate on more important matters, adds Mr. Emery.
Privacy is key
A key element of the system is the privacy safeguards built in. “We don’t give out names or phone numbers. Students get a generated number to send an email with their contact information. Both sides have to agree before any further contact is allowed,” he said.
An alternative is that if a college doesn’t want freshmen “contacting each other, then it can do a computer-generated match based on the results of the questionnaire,” he added. “The campus establishes the criteria that students use to find their ‘ideal’ roommate.”
“The system will grow as more people use it,” said Mr. Emery. “Every campus is basically a different entity onto itself. We create a tool for the campus and each campus adapts that tool for its needs. I’m sure we’ll get some more ideas as more and more campuses use the program.”
He said there are aspects of General Meters’ One-Card System in 300 campuses in the U.S. and Canada. “Our housing system is designed to be modular, as is the entire University One-Card System™. If there are certain functions you need, that’s all you would need to install, but it can be easily expanded. That makes it cost-efficient for a campus. It only has to utilize the portion it needs.”
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with additional offices in Canada, Florida, California, South Carolina, and Bulgaria, General Meters was created by Leon Gottlieb, still its president, in 1979 with copy machine meters, thus its name. “We still support our original copy meters, with several still in use in the field,” said Mr. Emery. “We feel that if they paid money for a product, we feel we must support it.”
To visit General Meters on the web, click here.