Living with a Roommate

current residents

For many students, college is the first time they have ever had a roommate. Even for those that live in close quarters with someone at home, living with a college roommate is a vastly different experience. It is crucial to consider that a roommate may have an entirely different background, lifestyle, and/or personal habits. Navigating these differences can be intimidating or challenging, but it is also one of the most rewarding aspects of living on campus. Learning how to adapt to a new environment, including developing effective communication skills, is a crucial skill not just for current students, but will also be valuable in the future for overall personal and professional development. The experience of living on campus helps lay the foundation for a successful future, long after a student leaves the residence hall.

It is entirely possible for two roommates to be very different and still have a successful roommate relationship. It is important that expectations for the relationship are realistic and openly communicated. Some students hope to build a close and lasting friendship with their roommate(s), while others are satisfied with a peaceful, courteous co-existence in their room. 

Another factor in achieving a successful roommate relationship is compromise. An individual’s perspective is framed by their personal history, life experience, and values. It is important to consider and respect these differences when navigating conflict. It is unrealistic to expect two individuals to agree all the time, so when conflict arises, managing expectations and compromise are key to resolving the issue.

Conflict with roommates can be a factor in overall satisfaction with the campus living experience. Communal living may necessitate exposure to values and attitudes different from what a student is familiar and comfortable with. This can be a positive opportunity for growth and learning if a student is able to understand and manage their own expectations. One way to avoid conflict due to differing expectations is for roommates to negotiate what is going to happen in the room/apartment and to come to an agreement concerning what behavior is appropriate. Having these conversations early in the roommate relationship can help establish a framework to support a successful year living in the residence halls. 

The following are examples of issues which roommates may want to negotiate early in the year:

1.     Study Time
2.     Sleeping and personal grooming schedules
3.     Cleaning- What does it mean for a room to be clean?
4.     Television and stereo use- How loud is too loud?
5.     Use of Personal Property (i.e. lending and borrowing)
6.     Non-use of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs
7.     Food (i.e. sharing)
8.     Morning and evening schedules
9.     Communication Styles- How should I express that something is bothering me? 
10.   Sharing expenses (i.e. cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc.)