Tips For Living in Harmony with a New College Roommate

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About 87% of first-year college students have at least one roommate, usually in a dorm setting. A college roommate could become a friend or someone very hard to live with. On average, a roommate relationship is somewhere in between.

Not getting along with — or tolerating ‑— a roommate often makes the campus life experience even more difficult, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ways college roommates can live in peace.

As incoming college students embark on their academic journey, there are a few vital aspects they should consider: choosing a college major and building a positive relationship with their roommate.

Choose a Major

How to choose a college major is a significant decision that can shape one’s academic and professional trajectory. With a multitude of options available, it’s essential to approach the process of selecting a major with careful consideration and introspection.

Exploring various disciplines, taking introductory courses, and engaging in extracurricular activities related to their interests can provide valuable insights. Additionally, conducting informational interviews with professionals in fields of interest can offer valuable perspectives.

It’s crucial to keep an open mind and be willing to explore different areas before settling on a major. Seeking guidance from academic advisors, career services, and mentors can provide additional support in making an informed decision.

Come Prepared

College campuses send a first-year student information about their dorm assignment and roommate in advance of the fall semester. To get a jump-start, reaching out to a roommate to introduce oneself as early as possible helps make the situation less awkward and begins a productive relationship in advance.

There’s also a practical benefit of reaching out early. Roommates can discuss what they plan to bring to college for their dorm and may be able to identify duplicates that are unnecessary, such as rugs or mini fridges. Some roommates-to-be even discuss general dorm room layout or the color of décor.

Be Considerate

Good communication between roommates is invaluable. A good rule of thumb is to always run something by them first before acting. For example, one should ask if it would be OK to host a study group in the shared dorm room or watch a movie with a date.

Asking permission is also key if a roommate wants to use something belonging to the other roommate.

Come in With Realistic Expectations

Despite what’s portrayed in movies and TV, college roommates rarely become instant best friends. Sometimes the relationship will grow into friendship, but it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a big difference between a friend and a roommate. Roommates may have different dispositions, classes, and general interests — and that’s OK.

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Make a Studying Plan

When first-year students are not in the classroom, they’re studying. The library is a good option, but many prefer studying in the comfort of their dorm room. When you have two roommates that may be a problem if some form of studying rules is agreed upon.

This could mean designating quiet study times throughout the week that works well for both students.

Don’t Ignore Issues

Roommates never got along all of the time, but that typically results from petty arguments or small misunderstandings. If something is bothering someone, they should feel compelled to be open and honest with their roommate.

Yes, choosing one’s battles is still good advice, but talking out problems with a roommate shows courtesy and may lead to even more effective communication in the future.

Practice Self-Awareness

Good roommates are self-aware roommates. Self-awareness can prevent arguments or makes one realize when a roommate needs some personal space. It can be easy to ignore bad habits, but with self-awareness roommates can focus on personal behaviors that may make living with them difficult — and then become flexible when it’s needed.