Getting Along with Your College Dorm Roommate

Moving to your first college dorm can be exciting - this is probably your first taste of freedom and independence. However, you most likely will have to share your space with another person - your dorm roommate. Most colleges assign dorm roommate randomly, so to paraphrase Forrest Gump, "Dorm roommates are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you gonna get." For the most parts, anyone who chooses to live in a dorm most likely are like you - first time living away from home and just as excited, scared and unsure as you are. However, to ensure that you get along with your roommate or roommates, in some cases, here are some foolproof tips before you move.

Be Civil

Sure, many college roommates end up being best friends for life, but you don't have to be best buds with them. Since it's such a random process, you may find that you'll be rooming with someone who's a complete opposite from you are - you may love hiphop and pop and he or she may love country music. Opposites may not always attract and you'll find that your relationship may be lukewarm at best. So, at the barest minimum, try to be civil and if possible, friendly. Offer your help and some advice especially if he or she is having trouble adjusting to college life. If they forget to tidy up once in a while, let it slip or just remind them nicely if it's getting to be a habit. While you don't have to spend time outside the dorm with them, it would be helpful as a "getting to know you" activity. Write Down Rules

This is a good idea even for all types of roommates, and maybe even some people who cohabitate. While having a written contract of rules sounds really dorky or square, it's good to really just hash everything out at the beginning, and then there won't be any misunderstandings. Of course, you'll be subject to the dorm's rules, but you should have some of your own rules. Here are some sample rules you can both decide when:
  • Cleaning schedule (or how long before trash MUST be taken out)
  • Lights Out
  • Guests (how many, what hours they can stay)
  • Noise Level

Respect Each Other's Things

Perhaps one of the biggest source of fights between college roommates are about each other's things. Everyone's boundaries are different - some people may thing it's ok to use your soap and hairbrush, while others will scream bloody murder if you even dare move one cup or book on their desk. So, try to be clear from the beginning as to what's ok or what isn't.

College roommates can really be a mixed bag. If you find yourself having trouble, go to your rooming or housing rep and talk to them. File a complaint to make sure there's a record of everything and if you can't get along, you may find living alone or moving off-campus is better. However, give it a try - you may find you'll get a best friend for life, or at the very least, you'll develop mutual respect and you can live together harmoniously.