College Roommate 101

There are a few things you should keep in mind before contacting your roommate for the first time. First off, remember that both of you are likely nervous and excited about similar things: leaving home, starting college, having a roommate, figuring out your meal plans and where to buy books. This is a great place to start to connect. 

Second, before contacting your roommate, try to think about what you know your living style to be like. Keep in mind that this may be different than what you want your style to be like. For example, do you like a clean and organized room? Yes. Are you good at keeping it that way? Perhaps not. Make sure you know how you actually are so that you can set realistic expectations for both of you. Try to be honest about your own patterns and what you know you need to feel balanced. College can be stressful, and if you need to let loose by going out on the weekends, make sure you work out a strategy for not waking up your sleeping roommate when you come home late.

RoommateWhen you do call, remember that you don’t need to work everything out during your first phone call or email. Do your best just to get to know the other person–you can figure other details out later. Talk about his or her high school experience, goals for college, major, why you both picked the college you did, and/or what you are doing between now and when you start in the fall. You may not become best friends, but you should set a pattern of being friendly.

Although I would suggest putting off the logistics discussion until after the first contact, that’s still definitely a conversation you and your new roommate need to have. Dorm rooms often have very limited space, and it’s important to check in about who is bringing what so you don’t end up with doubles of larger items (like the mini fridge, microwave, television, etc). You may also want to coordinate decor like bedspreads and wall art to present a more cohesively decorated room.

Keeping communication with your roommate open throughout the year is absolutely essential. Although you should talk about setting some ground rules before you move in together, it’s unlikely that you will think of everything you need at that point in time, so be sure to address issues as they come up throughout the year as well. Choosing your battles can help keep the peace, but if you let too many things slide you will start to feel resentful, not to mention uncomfortable in your own home. No one wants that, so make sure you talk!

As long as you’re honest and respectful with each other, things should go smoothly. If issues arise that you absolutely cannot resolve yourselves, you can always go to your Resident Advisor for help. Just take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy–college is a wonderful, exciting, and entirely new experience that you’re going to love.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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