Guide to Surviving College Roommates

You’ve visited the campuses, you’ve filled out the
applications, and you’ve finally made your decision. In just a few
months, you’ll be attending your first college class…and probably moving into a tiny dorm room with at least one perfect stranger. For many soon-to-be freshmen, the roommate situation is the most stressful part of the college experience. Here are a few tips to calm
the roommate jitters:

1) Fill out the roommate questionnaire sent by your school.
And fill it out honestly.
Almost every college’s housing office
sends out a questionnaire to all incoming freshmen the summer before they are due to arrive on campus. The questionnaire is designed to help the housing office match you with a compatible roommate at the most basic levels. It is not designed to find you
a best friend. Questions generally ask about smoking, drinking, and study habits, as well as how messy you are and what hours you like to keep. Answer these questions truthfully; it’s okay if you’re messy as long as you admit it so there aren’t any big surprises for your roommate a week after move-in day.

2) Be considerate. A pretty basic rule that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Treat your roommate how you want to be treated.

3) Keep an open mind, especially that first week. Deciding your roommate is a jerk the first second you meet is generally not the best way to start a year of co-habitation. Both of you are probably going to be a little stressed out – in both good and bad ways – during that first week or two and may be acting a little differently than you normally would. Give your roommate (and yourself) a chance to settle in and find a niche. Have some good conversations and find out what your roommate expects and make some compromises if necessary.

4) But define boundaries that are important to you. Recognize
that some things cannot be compromised. Religious views, sexuality, and your basic personality are things you shouldn’t have to feel like you should change. Make this clear. And you should have your own space with your roommate must respect, no matter how small your room may be.

5) You don’t have to be best friends. Unless you want to be, of course. Even though your roommate is probably the first person you meet at college, odds are you won’t be best friends. You don’t need to spend every waking (and sleeping, for that matter) moment with him or her. Don’t be afraid to branch out and meet other people, even if your roommate clings to you like grim death at the beginning. Eventually, you’ll both find a group of friends. You can still be
great roommates to each other. But you never knowâÂ?¦you could end up with a best friend for life if you’re lucky and can live together peacefully.

One additional note – some schools allow students to pick their roommates ahead of time if they know each other previous to enrollment. Consider this option carefully. A good friend might not
necessarily be a good roommate. And staying friends might be difficult in such close quarters.

Above all, talk to your roommate. Most issues can be resolved without the intervention of an RA or housing officer. Be honest, open, and considerate and you’ll have a harmonious freshman year.

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