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College is an experiment in survival, and navigating the murky waters of life with a roommate is often your first challenge. If you and your roomie hit it off, you may have found a future maid-of-honor or best man. Unfortunately, reality may soon rear its ugly head. Colleges try to match students according to their preferences, but polar opposites are bound to mix, and that's when all hell can break loose.

The honeymoon period usually ends with wars over phone messages, overnight guests, annoying personal habits and room cleanliness. The key to keeping the peace is to clear the air up front. Where does your roomie prefer to study? What are the rules for borrowing each other's CDs? When will you have guests over?

"One time, I walked in on my freshman-year roommate having sex with a girl on MY bed. I wish we could've agreed on a signal or something. It was an uncomfortable situation," says U. of Arizona senior Joseph Altman, Jr.

Of course, there are some unforseeable problems that really stink. Just ask Michael Jones, a junior at State U. of New York, Buffalo. "I had this roommate who just farted and laughed about it. Every day, all the time ... he'd fart," he says.

Most colleges allow roommate annulments after the first week of school. And most students agree that it's easier to move than to live with someone you totally hate. But getting a good roomie is the luck of the draw, so take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and may the force be with you.

By Jennifer McKean, U. of Arizona

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