Handling Your First College Roommate – 10 Tips

Handling Your First College Roommate – 10 Tips
  • Opening Intro -

    All across the country, incoming college freshman are getting ready to move away from home for the first time.

    For many of these new college students, moving away from home means living with a roommate for the first time as well.


Some students choose to live on-campus, while others choose off-campus housing. With either scenario, living with a roommate is a big adjustment.

Of course, every new student hopes to find a friend in his or her roommate, but no situation will be perfect. Taking the time to resolves issues between you and your roommate will positively affect your transition to college.

These 10 tips can help you prepare for living with a roommate, or offer you solutions to problems you already have encountered:

1. Keep your expectations realistic.

You will, at some point in your time living in a shared space, either be matched with a problem roommate or have a conflict with your roommate. Accept conflict as a means to develop your problem-solving skills.

2. Do not assume.

Have a conversation with your roommate about sharing items such as clothing, food, and cleaning supplies. Have a conversation about sharing and if you both agree to it, set up guidelines to avoid future conflict and misunderstanding.

3. Build a friendship.

Your roommate does not have to be your best friend but should make an effort to form a friendship. Exploring campus together is a way to create an instant bond. Not only will you learn more about your new campus, you will also have taken the first step to building a friendship.

4. A mutual understanding is key.

Most schools have roommates sign an agreement that includes the rules they each agree to follow. For example, you and your roommate can decide as a team if you agree to allow overnight guests and how frequently it is acceptable. Have an honest discussion about your lifestyle and which rules you both wish to enforce.

5. Consider the conflict.

When encountering what you think is a conflict with your roommate, ask yourself if it is based on behavior that can be corrected or a personality trait. Your roommate will feel attacked if you are criticizing his or her personality.

6. Do not hold grudges.

When a conflict occurs, talk out your differences. A conflict may seem overwhelming when it happens, especially when feelings are hurt, but approaching it head-on should resolve it. Verbalize your complaint before your anger builds and the situation escalates.

7. Be willing to compromise.

Even if you both filled out a roommate-matching survey, your habits will not be exactly the same. Sometimes, you will need to adjust your habits as a sign of respect to your roommate. For example, it you like to stay up late to study but your roommate is a light-sleeper, you might have to give in and study in the dorm’s common area. Your roommate will notice your courtesy and will give you an equal amount of respect.

8. Expand your horizons.

Opposite personalities, lifestyles, and backgrounds can teach you a way of life different from your own. Take the time to understand why your roommate acts the way he or she does. A mutual understanding of one another will lead to respect.

9. Take it as a learning experience.

Part of the experience of leaving home and living on your own is to realize that you have to accept other people’s faults and personalities. By doing so, you will be better prepared for post-college professional and personal relationships.

10. Use your resources.

The dorm staff is there to make your time on campus as problem-free as possible. They are trained in conflict resolution and are well versed in the complex issues facing college students. Think of them as a valuable resource for helping solve your roommate issues.


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Categories: College Living