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Living With a Roommate


Perhaps the most important lessons you’ll learn in college are the ones you learn outside the classroom. Figuring out how to live with someone involves respecting differences, sharing, being courteous, accepting others for who they are, and much more.

You’ll find that sharing space builds character. While most freshmen do miss the privacy of their homes, they also find comfort in sharing company with others who are experiencing the same issues—difficult courses, living away from home, balancing school work and social life, and a whole lot more. In fact, while there are many alternatives for roommates who don’t get along, most do stick it out, and solve their problems by talking it out.

Roommates and friends

Keeping lines of communication open is essential. Before you even step foot in your residence hall, give your roommate a call and find out who you’ll be living with for the next year. Here are some tips for getting off to a good start:

Discuss important issues and establish rules. If you can’t study with music on, then come to an agreement about quiet hours. If she likes to have lots of friends in the room all the time, and you don’t, make a schedule so that you can both enjoy the room at different times. If your roommate would rather you didn’t study with the light on when she’s trying to sleep, she should tell you. If you make house rules, and communicate openly and often, you can avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

Be respectful. Successful roommate relationships are based on mutual respect. If your roommate doesn’t like anyone borrowing her clothes, respect her wishes. If you don’t like music on while you’re studying, she should respect your needs, too.

Be willing to compromise. You and your roommate may not agree on everything, but you both have to be willing to compromise a little bit. If you’re a slob and she’s a neat freak, you should start cleaning up, at least in the parts of the room you share. And she should try to be flexible and realize your unmade bed doesn’t affect her.

Be courteous. Courtesy is contagious. If you behave politely to your roommate, she will likely follow your lead. Take messages when people call for her. Wish her luck on an exam. Ask if you can pick up something for her while you’re running errands. And, don’t borrow anything without asking.

Good friendships often begin by sharing space with strangers. So, who knows… maybe that loud, roommate you thought you’d never last with will become your good friend!

—Adopted from “College Roommate Rules” on College Board

Remember, if you have a problem, always address it with your roommate first. Complaining to other hall mates or your parents will not solve the problem. If talking with your roommate does not work, ask an RA or RD for assistance.