Tips For Getting Along with your College Roommate

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Unless you plan to live at home while attending college or spluging for special campus housing, you will most likely have to share your personal space, bathrooms, bedroom, etc. Getting along with a brand new college roommate can be tricky. Sharing space with a stranger  is tricky if you’re not lucky enough to dorm with a friend you already know from back home, which makes things 1000% easier. However, having a new roomie also doesn’t have to be dorm room horror story status, check out these tips for how make make your dorm roomie experience as smooth as possible and have the best chance of #winningatrooming.

Get to know your new roomie as soon as you can

As soon as you get a roommate, you should reach out online or in person, if you can. Just opening up a pathway of communication can help you get valuable information and also start the relationship off on the right foot.

Here are some important things to try to learn about your roomie early on:

  • Getting to know your roommate’s background will help you understand them and their values. You may find that you are quite similar or quite different. If you find that you are quite different, keep an open mind. You may find yourself learning not only a lot about your roommate but also about yourself through living together.

  • Try to get to know your roommates lifestyle. Are they a morning person or a night person? Do they go out alot or do they like to mostly stay at home? Also, let your roommate know about your lifestyle. Being forthcoming about how you live and what’s important for you to be comfortable will smooth a lot of potential conflicts before they happen.

  • Try to find something in common with your new roomie, finding a mutual interest can help establish common ground as you learn to live together and start to get to know each other.

  • If it’s your first year, explore campus together. Having a shared experience under your belt can help break the ice after you’re both settled and unpacked.

Although you don’t have to hit it off and be best friends with your roommate right away, showing mutual respect will make the living conditions better for both of you, as you get to know one another.

Get on the same page about boundaries

When you start living with your roommate, you should state clear boundaries. Some topics to make sure that you and your roomie are on the same page on are:

  • Quiet/study time
  • Having guest in the room
  • Messiness and cleaning
  • Bed times

All these are matters that should be clearly communicated to one another. Avoiding these topics can result in you crossing the line and/or getting your feelings hurt.

Strike a balance between honest and being compassionate, too

Communication is the key when living with someone else, especially in close quarters. You shouldn’t let problems pile up, instead you should talk about challenges early on. If your roommate has a habit that annoys you, you should speak up. Approach your roommate in private, when they have time to hold a conversation, and be clear about what is bothering you. When you do need to communicate about a disagreement, practice active listening during the conversation and keep the dialogue kind, avoiding blame and focusing on solving the issue.

According to experts, “The first one to know about a roommate conflict should be the roommate”. Before deciding to include a third person into the conflict, you should try to talk to your roommate about it first. Often times students hold onto stuff and blurt it all out when things get too overwhelming, this causes things to blow out of proportion. Make sure you listen to your roommate. You don’t want to be living in tension with someone.

Practice these conflict resolution strategies to bring the best out in one another when issues do arise (…and they will)

When living in close quarters, it’s really easy to let daily stress or annoyances get to you (or your roomie). If a conflict gets heated or if you see that your roomie is angry or frustrated, your priority should be to de-escalate the conflict before someone says or does something that they don’t mean.

The first step to de-escalating is to not lose your cool, no matter what your roomie is saying or doing. The second step is to take yourself out of the situation, without walking out on the person mid-sentence. Take some time out of the dorm to collect your thoughts and try to think about the situation from both sides if you can. Return to the dorm when you’re calm, your thoughts are fully collected. If you think your roomie had a moment to calm down, try to open up a open dialog. Remember, try to stay solution focused as you talk through the issue.  Here are some great case studies illustrating some common dorming conflict scenarios and their solutions.

Don’t let your roommate be the only friend you make

Making great friendships can be one of the most rewarding parts of the on-campus college experience. Even if you’re really close close to your roomie, make sure you spread your wings, too. To meet new people:  

  • You should consider joining clubs/organizations
  • Getting a job on campus
  • Attend college events.

Try to become friends with people that share similar interest as you and try to include your roomie too, if they have similar interests.

First impressions are not everything

You may find that the person you’re rooming with is very different from your or comes from a very different background, keep an open mind. All told, you’re also spending a lot to live on campus, so it’s in your best interest to make the most of the experience and everyone you meet, starting with your roomie.  By being friendly, inclusive, setting aside initial judgements, and investing just a little into getting to know your roomie, you may just find you have more in common than you think!