When it comes to the college transition, there’s a lot to adjust to—a new schedule, new food, and new freedom. But among the many things that freshmen have to get used to is the unfamiliar territory of dorm life. Communal bathrooms, rowdy hall-mates, and washing machines that charge you flex all must be adapted to, but nothing is ever quite so challenging as sharing your room with someone else (or in my case, two someones).
While the majority of freshmen find themselves in the traditional two-person rooms, a significant portion of the class is placed in triples (an even smaller portion end up in singles and quads). As the Class of 2017 is the largest in Rochester history, “forced triples” (as in not chosen by the students) were common this year and I am only one of many freshmen that get the unique experience of having two roommates.
Before arriving at Rochester, I was somewhat ambivalent about my dorm prospects. Sure, the housing discount was nice but would it really be worth the reduced living space and the effort of getting along with two other people? Now—six months later—I can definitely say I’m happy with how things turned out.
I have a great relationship with both of my roommates despite the fact that the three of us are very, very different. I’m an anthropology and English major from rural Oregon, Jhanmarie is a math major from the Bronx, and Elisa—undecided in her studies—hails form Austin, Texas. Our interests outside the classroom vary as well, from theatre to cheerleading to swing dancing. But even though our passions are anything but similar, at the end of the day, we’re there to support each other.
I’m grateful for the luck I’ve had in the roomie department, but that’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of struggles or that we haven’t had to learn certain strategies for making triple life tolerable. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that made the difference between harmony and hardship:
Loft the beds.
One of the hardest things about living in a triple—or any college dorm for that matter—is the limited personal space. Thankfully, bed-lofting can make a significant difference. All beds can be adjusted by the maintenance staff to several different heights, and students can comfortably fit both their desk and dresser beneath a fully lofted bed. The first bed adjustment is free and work orders for triples get preference. All three of our beds are currently lofted in my room, allowing me and my roommates to each have our individual space with the center of the room open and furniture free.
Invest in earplugs.
This is an important college tip no matter what your living situation is, but I’ve found it particularly useful from the triple standpoint. My roommates and I agreed early on that friends would always be welcome in our room. While this can be great when we’re ready to take a break from studying, it’s not unusual for us to have different study break schedules. The fact that there are three of us makes it even more likely that we won’t be in sync. However, I’ve learned that if one of my roommates has a friend over to talk or watch a movie while I’m trying to read, simply putting in my earplugs will bring back the silence required for concentration. Problem solved.
Figure out who’s buying what before moving in.
Along with room assignments, freshmen receive the name and contact info of their future roommate(s) well in advance of move-in day. This gives new students a chance to get to know who they’ll be living with for the next eight months and allow them to organize room logistics. No one wants to end up with three TVs in an already cramped room, so making sure to coordinate with your roommates in advance is a must. In my case, I ended up buying a mini fridge and an area rug, Jhanmarie contributed a full-length mirror and another fridge, and Elisa rounded things off with a microwave and a mirror of her own. We’ve found that having two of some things can actually be useful when shared between three people.
Let the little stuff go and learn to compromise.
When three people are sharing a single room, disagreements are bound to happen and little things can easily begin to get annoying. But like most problems, communication can be the key to making a compromise everyone can live with. In my room, we’ve found that talking out our issues usually ends with positive results. Some issues, however, aren’t worth the trouble. Things like learning how to sleep through your roommates’ alarms and not to complain when someone forgot to lock the door are important for a happy environment and maintaining positive relationships with the people you live with. In the end, there’s no way of getting around the dorm situation you end up with—you get what you get. But by learning to let the little things go and focus on the good stuff, dorm life, even in a triple, can be a great experience.