Classroomtalk: College Roomate Guide
Guest Post By: Iris Yuan
For many freshmen, college is the first time where they’ll have to live with
someone, usually a complete stranger, and peacefully figure out how to share that space.
Unlike summer camp roommates or field trips in high school, your roommate in
college may have completely different interests than you, or different living
habits. He or she may seem like they’re from another world, but don’t forget
that the room is just as much theirs as it is yours. It’s a hit-or-miss
situation. Your roommate can likely become one of your closest friends, but
lack of communication could also lead to resentment. After stalking your future
roommate on facebook (undoubtedly), and
determining that they’re sane, keep in mind the following guidelines.
Start with the most basic requirements of living with someone… not
what TV shows they watch, what their favorite band is, what major they’re
studying, or even their family background. These create differences that you
can work with and learn from. But say you’re trying to study for a midterm, and
your roommate wants to sleep early and can’t sleep if even one light is on.
From the very beginning, make sure you know and keep in mind your roommate’s
preferences for: when they sleep, when they wake up, when they study, will they
be in the room, how dark or light they want the room, etc. If you are up late
in this situation, for example, maybe it’s time to hit a study lounge or
Also establish cleaning schedules and get used to sharing. If anything, your incentive is financial.
Roommates who don’t get along will not share any of their belongings, including
bathroom, cleaning, and school supplies. You could also coordinate packing to
save space. This way, you could avoid filling up the room with two bottles of
shampoo, two mops, two sponges, two printers. Why buy duplicates when you could
spend half as much money and share?
No matter what, you’ll have some form of differences or disagreement with your roommate
over the course of the year. It could be a small matter, like not taking the
garbage out when you’re supposed to, or a recurring problem like noise and
having too many guests over. Even if the issue is small, it probably won’t stop
if it doesn’t get addressed. Avoid the trap of passive-aggression, of
complaining about your roommate to your friends but never bringing it up directly
with that roommate.
Clear communication is key. Even if you don’t become best friends, it’s always good
to instigate the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. Be
polite and courteous. In the end, it is your responsibility to compromise, be
fair, and you’ve done your part. Good luck!
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