Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social networking sites not only take on the task of keeping up with old friends, but they also help people make new ones, which is a vital step in the transitional process for college freshmen.

At a university like Stony Brook, where roughly 24,000 students are enrolled, getting to know your peers on an intimate basis may seem like a daunting task.

But with social networking sites, it has become easier to get a jump start with making friends and connecting with fellow classmates.

The new trend is using Facebook to meet and talk to other incoming freshmen, as well as finding a roommate before actually setting foot on campus. Stony Brook seems to be in sync with this new phenomenon since it gave freshmen the option of using RoomSync, an online roommate matching app run through Facebook.

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RoomSync, often compared to online dating sites, asks students to fill out a short questionnaire and write a brief biography before being matched to possible roommates.
“I think RoomSync is very comprehensive and tries to find you a compatible roommate,” psychology major Sharif Patwary, a freshman, said. “Although it is no match.com, it does a pretty good job.”

However, people have turned away from this innovative app and looked to Facebook groups to aid them in connecting with other Seawolves. In a survey taken for this story, 74 percent  of  the 47 students polled admitted to not using RoomSync for different reasons. Some wanted a traditional random roommate, others already had someone in mind and a few just felt the app was inadequate.
“I thought the concept of RoomSync was good, but in reality, the program was not all that user-friendly,” said Albany Jacobson Eckert, 18, a marine vertebrate biology major. “The formatting came out all weird, which made it difficult to navigate around it. In the end, I chose to have a random roommate selection instead of requesting on RoomSync.”

For those who turned to Facebook groups, they found that there were a plethora of ones to join. For example, each Undergraduate College, or UGC, has its own group, where students can connect solely with the 400 or so students that will be living in their quad. While there are six separate UGC groups, there is only one dedicated to the class of 2016. It’s here that most people go to introduce themselves, confide in others about precollege jitters, ask for advice about the math placement test and simply post topics to get conversations going.

“Getting to know one another is a big game changer. It’s amazing when you already know a lot of the people before even starting the semester,” electric engineering major Semir Pupovic, 18, said.  “And it’s not like the page is dead, too. There is always someone that’s going to reply to a question you may have or give some support.”

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These groups aren’t just great for interacting with new students, though. Any day you can find one of the 350 clubs or organizations posting information or see upperclassmen trying to sell used copies of textbooks. Besides that, 87 percent of the students polled would agree that the best part of the groups is the valuable information offered by the upperclassmen.

“The fact that many current students are only a click away and available to answer all questions or concerns is really comforting,” freshman Mira Gor said. “I speak from personal experience when I say that having such groups on Facebook really made me feel like I am getting to know my peers better already, and am getting the chance to expect what college work is going to be like from student testimonies.”

Gor also said, “if it weren’t for the social media sites, I personally feel like I would be very lost come August, and it is because of these sites that I feel much more comfortable and confident about transitioning to college life.”

Even though the point of these groups is to connect with others, one mustn’t just stick to talking to people behind a computer screen. Facebook is key when you don’t have the opportunity to talk to your classmates in person. However, as journalism major Robby Cimino, a freshman, puts it, “Meeting and making friends in person will never be obsolete.”

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