College Life: Roommates

Living with a roommate is probably one of the biggest pre-college stresses.  What will they be like? Will they be fun? Will they like the things you do? Will they bring their sports team into your room for a party the night before you have a big exam? Will they take and use all your stuff? Will you eat together?  Mostly: Will you be friends?

Well, you might be friends, or you might not, but in any relationship, communication is key.  Here’s four ideas to smooth out any roommate relationship.

Establish Ground Rules

In the first couple of days living together, review the basics with each other.  Be clear with what you want – if sharing dishes and detergent is okay, but not clothes, tell your roommate.  Let them know that you’re game for throwing parties in your room, but you both need to agree to a date and time.  Review preferred sleeping times, and whether your roommate likes having a little light while they sleep or not.  This is basic stuff, and important to always keep in mind.

Be Courteous

Your room is not only YOURS.  It’s a shared space, and there’s lots of common-sense things you can do to make it nice for you, your roommate, and to keep your relationship positive.

  • DO be prepared to make compromises.  This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind.
  • DO keep your side of the room clean.  Both you, and your roommate, will be glad you did.
  • DO always lock your door behind you. This is both for safety, and for security –stealing is a big issue in some campuses, and losing your laptop can be a disaster.
  • DO spend lots of time outside of your room. If you use it as a home base, but you study and hang out in other places, you’ll give both yourself and your roommate more privacy.
  • DON’T be that person who hits snooze eight times before they wake up. If your roommate’s trying to sleep, that’s not the best.
  • DON’T just take your roommate’s things – ask first.
  • DON’T return anything you borrow in bad condition – be sure to wash the mug or sweater.
  • DON’T just kick your roommate out if you need private time. Do your best to plan it in advance, and make sure your roommate has somewhere else to stay.

If you have a problem, talk about it

If your roommate is doing something that makes you uncomfortable, and it can be pretty much anything, bring it up.  It doesn’t have to be a big confrontation, and more likely than not, your roommate doesn’t even know it’s a problem.

If you don’t know how to bring it up, or it’s a bigger issue than you know how to handle, there’s probably all kinds of support at your college, from Resident Assistants to peer mediators to even deans. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

Get me out of here!

If things are really, reeeeeeeeeally bad, you’ve got two options.  You can write it off as a silly adventure your freshman year, and spend as much time away from your room as possible.  Or you can request a room transfer, which would (hopefully) move you far away. While this is a major move, it’s worth keeping in your back pocket.

While you might not be best friends with your freshman year roommate, you’ll probably be able to get along if you clearly communicate what you need, and are willing to make some compromises.  If your roommate hates noise while they’re studying and you love music, use headphones.  If you’re going to an awesome party on Friday, think about inviting your roommate along.  Because you never know – you may actually end up being very good friends.

School Profiles: New York University