Roommate Roulette at Colleges and Universities

Most colleges will require you to live on campus in the dorms for a student’s freshman year, which can create an unexpected stressful situation. However, this can also be a great opportunity to meet new people and find new friends. The best piece of advice to keep in mind is that your roommate is a freshman too and likely experiencing the same feelings as you. You’ll both want to be respectful of each other’s space so that your first year is a good time for the both of you.

Housing application

As a freshman first living in the dorms, the college will more than likely choose your roommate for you. To do this in the best way possible, you will have to fill out a housing application that asks you about who you are, including personality type, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and habits. They will pair you up as closely as they can with someone that will mesh well with your personality, so be open and honest when filling out the housing application.

The first meeting with your new roommate

When you’re moving in, you are going to either be the first one there or the last. If you are the first one, choose a side of the room for your stuff, and leave the rest of the space open for your roommate. You don’t want to create a bad first impression when your roommate comes in. If you are the last one in the room, introduce yourself and survey the room for where your roommate has decided to claim their space.

Introduce yourself and don’t be shy. Be yourself so that know who you are right off the bat and ask them about themselves too. Start with small talk, majors, hobbies, where you’re from, etc., so that you don’t come off disrespectful or aggressive. Once you get a sense of each other, then you can start talking about what it is going to be like living with someone in a small space for the course of the first year.

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Respecting each other’s space

You’ll want to talk to your roommate about your personal space. Set expectations early on and let them set their own expectations. It isn’t always about you and you both will have to make some compromises in order to make it work.

If they’re trying to study, put on your headphones. If they’re sleeping, use a flashlight and try and be quiet so that you don’t disturb them. You don’t want to be the disrespectful roommate. And in the same light, you should expect the same out of your roommate. If they aren’t being respectful of your space, you need to tell them upfront without being aggressive about it.

Personality clash

Inevitably, at some point you are going to get into an argument with your roommate and disagree on some things. That’s just how it is, so prepare for it in advance. This is when those conflict resolution skills come in handy. Speak in a respectful manner when this happens and don’t let arguments get out of hand where you and your roommate are yelling at each other. If anything, let the initial disagreement sit for a little bit and take a walk, stay at a friend’s place for a night, or go to the library for a while. It is better to have a discussion when you’ve both had some time to think about it and calm down.

Protecting your stuff

Whether it is your roommate, their friends, or some random person getting in your dorm, make sure that you protect your stuff. This means anything valuable, including your laptop, tablet, phone, and even things like your food, drinks, and school books. Sadly, roommates will sometimes eat your food, so if you have a mini-fridge, consider putting a lock on it or putting a lock on your desk where you can store your laptop. And don’t go accusing your roommate right away if something comes up missing. Sadly, dorms are notorious for getting things stolen and people losing their stuff, so you know who might have taken it or where you lost it.

Discuss problems early on

Always discuss any issues you have right away. Don’t let things stew for too long. It is always better to address any problems right away than to let tensions flare and things to get out of control.

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