Sharing a dorm room with someone for the first time is much like a first date – it’s a little awkward, and you don’t always know what to expect. But unlike a first date, you’re going to live with this person for the foreseeable future – so you might want to prepare a little more than just finding a clean t-shirt to wear.
Here’s a quick tip: Reach out to your roomie before move-in day and try to get a feel for their personality. Talk about roommate expectations and share what you’re bringing so that there’s no doubling up on household items. This is a good start to forming a relationship.
However anxious you might feel about having a roommate, though, know that it’s all part of the college experience. Almost everyone on campus has a roommate. Sure, it’s not always smooth-sailing, but that’s OK. You’ll learn how to become a more effective communicator, a better socializer, and gain some introspection. And even if it’s bad, it will be a story to tell for years. So there’s that.
Here’s what to expect with a new roommate:
You don’t have to be besties with your roomie.
If you didn’t choose your roommate before the deadline, then you’re usually assigned one based on compatibility. You might remember filling out a roommate questionnaire that asks about your lifestyle, such as are you a morning person or a night owl? Residence Life does its best to pair you with a good match, but that doesn’t mean your new roommate will also become your new best friend.
You don’t even have to be friends with your roommate, as long as you’re friendly, respectful of their personal belongings (and of their feelings), and communicate with them about challenges or opportunities. You’ll know pretty much right away if it will be more of a friendship or roommate situation, don’t get discouraged if it’s not.
You definitely should set some boundaries.
You’re totally going to LOVE living on your own and feeling independent. Your roommate shouldn’t be giving you a bedtime or telling you when to do your homework (unless you’ve been avoiding both, which then, by all means, they should). Regardless, both you and your roommate should set boundaries so you know what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not.
Also, if there are certain things that are just “yours,” then be upfront about it. Share milk, yes, but you don’t have to share everything. You might not want to share that pint of ice cream you’ve been saving for a rainy day.
Or, maybe you’d prefer that they don’t have guests over after 11 p.m. on a weekday. That’s OK, but make sure to establish some ground rules beforehand. Even if it’s an awkward conversation, you won’t regret it. Your Resident Assistant (RA) will even help you draw up a “roommate agreement,” so make sure to hold onto those and take them seriously.
You need to give R-E-S-P-E-C-T … to get respect.
For real, respect and honesty go a long way when you’re sharing space with someone else. If something is bothering you, speak up. If you need someone to mediate, then turn to your RA. Most of the time, you can remedy an issue if you talk it out. Some common problems might stem from your or your roommate’s behaviors, such as sleeping patterns or cleanliness. These types of issues can get sorted out over time.
However, if it’s a bigger issue that feels out of your control, then contact your RA, and they can get in touch with Residence Life or the appropriate contact. The staff at Residence Life will work their hardest to make sure you feel safe and comfortable in your living situation. You’re never stuck – just speak up.
You need to be patient.
*Spoiler* things with your college roommate might not be perfect at first. Instead of immediately requesting a new roommate, we suggest letting things play out for a little while. You’re not going to like every person you meet in life. You will thank yourself later for sticking it out with your roomie and learning how to get along with people from all walks of life.
College is all about change. You might grow to love your roommate or you will grow to deal with them. If you’re ever not sure, don’t be like Brandon and Dave, and reach out for help.