Living With a Roommate

Tips on how to prepare for your first college roommate

Most college freshman end up living with a roommate their first year of college.  Some people may luck up and room with a high school friend who happens to be attending the same college, but most students will be placed with a complete stranger. Life with a roommate can be great or horrible and the relationship can have a huge impact on your freshman year experience.  But you don’t have to enter the situation blindly. There are few steps you can take over the summer to make sure that you and your roommate get off to the best possible start.

Reach out: Your university will inform you who your roommate is over the summer. Once you get this information reach out to him/her. Place a call, shoot an email, friend them on Facebook. Introduce yourself and let your roommate know a little about you. Keep the first communication brief, but let them know that you are interested in connecting with them over the summer prior to arriving on campus. Most people will welcome this communication.

Determine compatibility: Your university may have paired you with your roommate based on a determined compatibility, but it’s probably still a good idea for you test the waters yourself. Once you open the lines of communication, take the opportunity to get to know them and allow them to get to know you. Try to discuss subjects like musical taste, personal style, work habits, cleanliness, etc. so you can determine areas of joint interest and areas of potential problems. If you find a potential problem area, don’t panic. Unless the situation is particularly grievous, give the situation a chance first. You never how the situation may work out in the end.

Coordinate the décor: Unless both you and your roommate want a hodge podge room, it’s probably a good idea to discuss décor. You both will have your own personal style, but you will both be much happier if you can coordinate the look of your shared space. See if you can find agreement on a look/feel first. If you find your styles are too different and you can’t find a happen medium, don’t give up. See if you can at least settle on a coordinating color scheme. Remember to be flexible and open-minded and hopefully your new roommate will too.

Coordinate purchasing: There are some items that you will not need two of, especially considering the size of most dorm rooms. With these items, you and your roommate can work together to split the purchasing.  Items like extra furniture, rugs, and window treatments fall into this category. Some students may also choose to split purchasing on larger items like a TV or mini fridge, and if you decide to do this proceed carefully. Many people get possessive with these types of items and it may cause future conflict. If these types of items are shared, make sure to develop ground rules on use to prevent issues.

If you follow these steps, you’ve provided yourself and your roommate a good start for your living situation. You’ve already started to work together and know a little about each other. If, however, troubles arise, try to address them quickly. Work to always keep an open line of communication and if you are having trouble communicating, reach out for help from the university. In particularly bad cases, you will be reassigned and given a new roommate.

Photo credit: by sienacommunications

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