One of the most challenging aspects of college can be living with a roommate. Typically, this is the first time you have either lived in the same room with someone or lived with a person you know little about. Either way, living with someone in a small space can be difficult, but with perseverance and determination, this can be a rewarding experience. Many college roommates often turn out to be lifelong friends. Although many roommates get along from check-in day, below we have outlined some tips on developing successful roommate relationships.
Roommates Need to Talk
Make a good first impression and contact your roommate before arriving on campus. Take time to get to know your roommate. If possible try to arrange a mutually convenient location to meet face to face. If not, a few telephone conversations should do the trick. Try to develop a solid foundation to build a strong relationship once you arrive to campus. Discuss issues such as: neatness, noise, visitors, study habits, sharing of belongings, social lifestyles and room furnishings.
Understand that disagreements are normal, and try to understand your roommate's perspective. Clearly identify those behaviors that upset you. "Confront the behavior, not the person." Admit when you are wrong and apologize. You are both in a new environment and living situation.
Although you might not always agree with each other, remember it is alright to "agree to disagree." Make the appropriate choices and "choose your battles wisely." Sometimes discussing disagreements later is better. It is important, however, to listen carefully to each other and understand how your roommate feels. Generate solutions together. Typically, there is not a right answer, but through compromise you and your roommate can both be satisfied with the outcome. Use common sense, avoid yelling and try to have a positive attitude. Working through problems will bring you and your roommate closer.
You and Your Roommate Do Not Have to be Best Friends
Understand that living with someone does not automatically make that person your best friend. Similarly do not assume that you and your best friend will automatically be good roommates. The most important thing to remember is that you need to respect one another's space and privacy; nothing more, nothing less.
Know Your Resources
We have trained student staff members (Resident Assistants) in helping students with dealing with roommate concerns. Don't be afraid to ask for help, not everyone can live together successfully. When all else fails, explore the possibility of a room change. You can obtain specific guidelines and room change dates from a member of the Residential Life staff.
Living in a residence hall should be a fun and rewarding experience. Sure there are rules, but there is plenty of flexibility within college guidelines for students to have an enjoyable residential experience. Get to know your neighbors and building residents and make the most of this experience.