It’s something we’ve all been through. You and your roommate have been living together for 36 hours and it’s become almost impossible to ignore the massive elephant in the room. You killed as much time as you could by talking about the admitted students’ days at other colleges you were accepted to, stripping naked and comparing the sizes of your Intel Science Fair trophies, etc. But it’s been eating you up inside, and finally you just have to ask: is your roommate also a valedictorian? Here are some tips on how to navigate “The Talk.”

  1. Make sure you are both comfortable enough with each other to have “The Talk.” It’s important to you show your roommate you have a vulnerable side before revealing the full extent of your megalomania. Try telling them about some bullshit time when you experienced failure and how you pretended to learn from it, like when you were doing a group presentation and realized you couldn’t do it all by yourself because your group was greater than the sum of its parts but also because everyone was required to present at least one slide so you stood in the back of the room with phonetic cue cards and hoped that Brett wouldn’t butcher the pronunciation of “momentous” as badly as he did in rehearsal. See – social interaction isn’t all that different from writing your application essays!
  2. Read the room(mate). You might be able to gauge whether your roommate was a valedictorian just from context clues. For example, tell them your favorite song is “Pomp and Circumstance” and that you need to listen to it every night in order to fall asleep. If your roommate does not immediately echo this sentiment and don their graduation robes as pajamas, chances are they weren’t a valedictorian. You can tell for sure by staying awake and listening to see if they recite their valedictory address in their sleep. If they don’t, either they’re not a valedictorian or Pavlov was full of shit!
  3. Play it cool. While saying something like “Please tell me you were worthwhile enough as a human being to be your high school valedictorian, like me” seems polite because you said “Please,” such direct phrasing might come off as rude. Instead, try saying something a bit more passive, like “Hey. Just wondering if you felt like telling me if you were valedictorian or not. Okay, never mind. I’m sorry I even asked.” The best way to be polite is to always apologize in advance for everything.

Now here’s the difficult part: what if your roommate isn’t a valedictorian? Well, first off, you can always hope they went to one of those wishy-washy snowflake high schools that don’t have ranks or valedictorians because they are worried about “anxiety” and “depression.” But even then, you’ll have no way to assure that they would’ve been valedictorian if their school did have them. Worst comes to worst, remember that being valedictorian isn’t everything. Because at the end of the day, if they’re not a valedictorian, it means their parents have a lot of money. And isn’t that what matters most of all?

– H. Rubin