College brings us a set of new challenges: The “Freshman 15,” learning effective study habits and much more. But what about roommates?
Living with a roommate in college can have its challenges, but there are some easy ways to avoid conflict and set ground rules so transitioning to living in a shared space can go more smoothly.
My first time living away from home was also the first time I ever had to share a room with anyone. Believe me, it was an adjustment to say the least. Four years and three roommates later, I can say I not only survived, but I made some lifelong friends along the way.
So here ‘s some college roommate advice and my top 10 tips for living with a new roommate, and perhaps finding your next best friend.
Tip #1: Be honest with your roommate about what you like and don’t like from the start
Honesty about likes and dislikes is key; it will help you avoid conflict. Are you a neat freak? Do you hate it when people hit the snooze button more than once? Consider a college roommate contract and be up front about what your expectations are so that they can be established from the beginning. This can help avoid roommate conflicts and keep things from escalating several weeks into the semester.
Tip #2: Establish a cleaning plan with your roommate
Talk about what a clean room looks like to both of you and how you plan to make that happen. Maybe you don’t mind a pile of clothes in the corner or food left out overnight, but it’s important to have a plan on what is considered clean. You don’t want to be left constantly cleaning up a roommate’s mess or vice versa, so set up a cleaning plan and be respectful of it.
Tip #3: Set ground rules for having friends over
Who can come over? What times are ok for you to have guests? Are you ok with overnight guests? All of these are important questions to consider and address. Be mindful of their preferences to avoid roommate issues in college. If you like to study in big groups and they don’t consider alternating who has the room certain days or times so that you can both enjoy and respect your shared space in a way that suits both your needs.
Tip #4: Talk about sleep and study habits
It is possible that you and your roommate will have opposite sleep and study habits. How will you respect each other’s habits while still being able to do your own thing? Consider making a schedule weekly or bi-weekly so that if one person has an important test and wants the room to study or to go to bed early you know ahead of time and can respect each other’s needs.
Tip #5: Respect your roommate’s belongings…and vice versa
While you may be ok with sharing everything, your roommate may not feel the same. Is your closet their closet? Is it cool if they borrow something and don’t immediately return it? Talk about what is ok to share and what is off limits. Something that might not bother you could be a big deal to your roommate. Always talk about what’s cool to borrow, use and share before assuming anything.
Tip #6: Talk to each other
You don’t have to be best friends with your college roommate, but you are sharing a home with this person. Asking your roommate how his or her day went goes a long way. Who knows, this person may become your next best friend, and it all started from a simple question.
Tip #7: Address small issues before they become big conflicts
Remember, little things can turn into big things; you never want to bottle up what’s bothering you. Avoiding conflicts with your college roommate sometimes involves airing the laundry a bit.
Perhaps you initially thought having friends visit in your shared space wouldn’t bother you, but your feelings have since changed. Or maybe you’re not as big into sharing everything as you initially thought. Instead of waiting to resolve frustrations with your roommate, address them immediately to avoid bigger problems later.
Tip #8: Discuss how you’d like to resolve conflicts
While you may like face-to-face contact, your roommate may be more comfortable with writing you a letter when conflict arises. Talk about this in advance so you don’t offend each other later. By coming up with a plan to address conflicts with your roomie, you’ll be better able to listen to what is going in calmly and find a simple solution. Living with someone who does things differently than you can be a great learning experience, understand what they are comfortable with and be up front about what you are comfortable with to make it easy for both of you.
Tip #9: Mind the details…it’s the little things that matter
Maybe you don’t have time to go out with each other often, but one of the things I loved best about my college roommates was the little things we would do for each other: an encouraging note on a test day, making each other’s beds, or getting a cup of coffee to power through a long night of study. Be courteous and remember your roommates are probably in the same boat you are.
Tip #10: Treat roommates as you want to be treated
Ah, the golden rule. Living with someone you barely know can be a new experience, but as long as you respect each other and establish boundaries, you can make living together a positive experience. Keep and open mind and treat the other person with respect to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
There are some advantages of living with a roommate, and sharing your space doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Consider these tips when living with a roommate and you are sure to have a positive experience.
And don’t forget to learn more about living on campus at University of St. Thomas!
Other Helpful Resources:
- 3 reasons College Students Should Live On Campus
- How High School Can Help You in College
- Q&A: A College Tour Guide Tells All
By Juliana Parra, Coordinator of Residence Life