Have you ever thought about how many changes come with starting college? New town, new school, new classes, new schedule, new friends, new activities, new living space! It can all be pretty overwhelming. And to add to the chaos, you get to share tight quarters with sometimes a complete stranger. Cue the panic mode. But don’t actually, it’s not that bad! There’s a reason people continue to live with roommates throughout college, and it’s because they can actually be pretty helpful. Having someone there with you when you first get to school sounds pretty intimidating, but don’t worry, we’re here to help! Whether you and your roommate are best friends or complete strangers, there are some easy things you can do to ensure you keep all the good vibes in your dorm room.
- Communication is key - Having a roommate is almost exactly like being in a relationship with someone. Talk about EVERYTHING. And no, not just your favorite color and your high school sweetheart. Talk about your likes and dislikes, what makes you frustrated, how you like to spend your free time, etc. Heck, even take a personality test together and talk about how you are similar and different.
Agree on shared/independent spaces and things - Do you have certain things you don’t want someone else to touch? Does it bother you when someone plops down on your bed without asking or warning? Don’t be alarmed when your spacial boundaries are different than your roommate. Boundaries are different for everyone so be sure to ask their boundaries, and you do the same!
It’s okay to complain or have confrontation (respectfully of course) - Nobody likes a complainer, but it’s okay to talk about issues or problems, especially EARLY on. The sooner you talk about it, the better. If it’s annoying you that they never replace the toilet paper, tell them the first time, not the 10th. If you don’t like how they always leave their wet towel on the floor, kindly ask them to make sure and hang it up. Being open about problems and issues will only help resolve them faster. *PRO TIP* - If you’re feelin’ extra, talk about these things in PERSON, not over text. It’s much easier to be understanding (for both parties) if you’re talking face to face.
Dealing with stress - There are lots of ways to handle stress. Whether you like to exercise it out or cry it out, let your roommate know. It’s important for them to understand how you will react in times of stress.
Compromise - You have your habits and routines; so does your roommate. Don’t assume they’re going to change their whole lifestyle just to fit yours, and vice versa. Living with a roommate is all about creating a space where you can both be yourself. If they’re a loyal Game of Thrones watcher and you want nothing to do with it, for goodness sake don’t make them stop watching it. Be respectful and work your schedule around it! It’s one time a week, come on.
Cleaning schedule - This will totally make you feel like your mother, but creating an organized cleaning schedule is really the only way to accomplish keeping a tidy and clean room. It’s surprising how quickly things dirty up, especially with two people in close quarters, so pay attention to your OWN mess and most importantly, SHARE duties. Talk about the cleaning situation the first week and stick to it. *PRO TIP* - Charts are helpful!
Grocery shopping and eating - Are y’all splitting groceries and toiletries? Are you rotating grocery shopping or keeping all food separate? Talk about it! Trust us, you will regret not being open when your freezer full of Halo Top is gone or your toothpaste tube is empty.
Don’t expect to be BFFs - It’s important to get to know your roommate, but don’t worry, you don’t have to spend ALL your time with them. It’s a fact that the better you know someone, the more accepting you are to them so set apart some time to spend together. You’ll be living together so be someone your roommate can trust. You can be each other's best asset or worst enemy. If you end up BFFs, how cool? If not, whatever.
Talk about sleep schedules - Are you a night owl or early riser? Do you snooze the alarm 8 times or pop right out of bed? These are questions to ask! Sleeping in the same room with opposite schedules is tough, but doable. Be respectful of their time and sleep, and they will do the same for you. At the end of the day, college students are sleep deprived, so create an environment that’s comfortable to snooze! *PRO TIP* - College naps are GOLD. Include naps into your sleep schedules.
Bathroom habits - No one wants to be stuck on the toilet without toilet paper, or find hair on the walls in the shower. If you’ve been living by yourself, you might have never noticed your bathroom habits and vice versa. It’s common to not know your expectations until something happens, so be aware and when it does, talk about it.
Living in a toxic environment is not healthy and can only harm your college experience. If you feel like you or someone you know is having a difficult time with their living situation, our housing team is here to help! Please contact Dr. Stephanie H. McBrayer, Director of Housing & Residence Life/BearCard for guidance.
Dr. Stephanie H. McBrayer
Director of Housing & Residence Life/BearCard