Guidelines for getting along with your roommate

One challenge of college is trying to figure out how to live with someone in a room that may be as big as your closet at home. Whether your roommate is your best friend or a complete stranger, there are ways to make it work.

If you live in the dorms, your resident adviser may tell you to make a list of roommate rules. While most people do not write out an actual list, talking about certain roommate rules is not a bad idea.

Mention the things that make you tick right away. If you hate sharing clothes, tell your roommate before he or she asks you to wear your favorite shirt. If you like to keep your food for yourself, suggest to your roommate that you have separate stashes from the start. Making these rules clear early on will help you avoid potentially awkward situations later in the year.

It is OK to want personal space, but remember that sharing can benefit you both. If you let your roommate wear your clothes, you can borrow his or hers. Even sharing food may sound like a good idea when you are starving and have nothing to eat. Whatever you choose, make sure you and your roommate have good communication and are on the same page about what can be shared and what is off-limits.

Setting boundaries is a good idea even if you are rooming with a friend. It is not necessarily true that best friends can’t room together. Living with a friend instead of a complete stranger can make life easier, if you remember a couple things.

Respect your friend’s space and belongings. While it may be tempting to take your best friend’s clothes or to take a nap on his or her bed without asking, remember you are both living in a small room, and everyone needs some personal space.

Also make sure you are not spending all of your time together. You will already be seeing a lot of each other if you are rooming together, so try some new activities alone. It will help you be more independent and allow you to learn how to make new friends.

Not everyone knows his or her roommate. If you room with a complete stranger, definitely set up roommate rules. Keep an open mind, and try to be friends or at least friendly with your roommate.

Sometimes, roommates just do not click. If you do not think you and your roommate will become best friends anytime soon, do not worry. You still have plenty of opportunities to make friends with your neighbors and other students from classes and organizations you join.

Of course, we have all heard some roommate horror stories, and it is true, awful roommates exist. There are slobs, people who wake you up in the middle of the night and some who have no notion of personal space. If you find yourself with a roommate who is unbearable, move. There are ways to transfer dorms and change your roommate. Talk to your RA to see what your options are. 

Hannah is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]