Five Tips for First-Time Roommates

With college acceptances slowly but surely rolling in, the scramble to find roommates or get placed in housing begins and doesn’t seem to finally conclude until Orientation week begins. For those who come from households where they never had to share a room, dorming may seem like a very daunting task. Here are five tips to get you through your first semester with a roommate:

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1. Keep it between yourselves

Hard times are bound to come by when two people are living in a small space together. Crazy roommate stories pour from college campuses every year and the scenarios get wilder every time. It is important to remember, however, that no matter how “juicy” your roommate horror story or conflict is, it is in the best interest of both parties to keep whatever is going on in-house and not air each other’s dirty laundry (figuratively and literally). At the end of the day, college residence halls are private spaces and it is unfair to those involved if you go out of your way to talk about how someone else lives and acts in their room.

2. Keep updating the room agreement

It is impossible to think of all of the little nuances that might need to be discussed right at the beginning of the semester when you are fresh on campus in the midst of Orientation. You might think at first to establish quiet hours or discuss what times each of you likes to go to bed, but you might not think to discuss whether your roommate can borrow your shampoo, for example. Don’t be afraid to add new rules as you get to know each other and yourselves. Be open to changes and don’t be afraid to speak up!

3. Better to ask than to be sorry

If you are unsure whether your roommate would mind your friends staying late or borrowing/sharing of clothes or food, it is always better to just ask instead of act on your own. Even if an initial agreement was made, it is understandable and normal for people to change their minds as the semester goes on. As roommates, it is always best to ask in advance or give a generous heads-up before acting in your own best interest.

4. Look out for each other

If you roommate’s alarm is going off at 6:00 or 7:00 am but you know they don’t start classes until 10:00 am, the odds are they probably have an exam or important event to go to. Instead of shutting it off, let your roommate know what time it is so that they do not miss anything important. You’re likely to find that your roommate will return these kind gestures in your time of need.

5. Stay in touch regularly

Make sure that you have at least two ways of contacting your roommate in case of emergencies. Whether you are locked out of the room or they didn’t come home when they said they were going to, it is important that you have some way of reaching them and relaying any necessary information.

When faced with a problem, regardless of how minor, understand that the passive-aggressive approach is never the way to go. While it may feel good to “get back” at your roommate, at the end of the day it just leaves both parties disgruntled and annoyed. A happy dorm life is key to a happy academic experience, so try your best to maintain peace and be open about issues along the way.

Whether you are living on campus in a single, double, or a triple, I wish you the best of luck on your journey through college. Stay positive!

About the author

Sharifa Sharfeldden

Hello! I am a member of the Class of 2021, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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