For most of your life, you’ve had your own room or have shared quarters with a sibling. However, in college, that will change. Living on campus means living with a roommate, and it’s highly likely you’ve never met, let alone seen, this person you are going to be spending a year with in the same, small room.
Here are 5 great tips to avoid conflicts and have a smooth year:
1. Contact your roommate before the school year even starts.
At least knowing a little bit about them before the school year starts will help you ease into school life, and make the first day a lot less awkward.
2. Work out the specific details.
Trade cell phone numbers in case of an emergency and get to know your roommate’s specific needs. Are they allergic? Do they need time for prayer every day? Knowing these needs and knowing how to address them will help prevent any conflicts. Also, know who will be bringing the dorm room necessities, like the mini fridge, so you don’t have 2 of everything.
3. Your roommate does not need to be your best bud, you just have to get along.
Remember the golden rule of life: treat your roommate how you would like to be treated. If you don’t want her to take your hairbrush, don’t take hers.
4. Deal with conflicts as soon as they come up.
If something kind of bothers you now, it may grow to become a monster of a problem if you don’t deal with it immediately. Whether it’s their habit of leaving books on the floor or stumbling in at two in the morning, tell them about it. It may work out for the better.
5. Know when to get help.
Nothing will ever change until you make a move. If a problem is too large for you to tackle on your own, ask your resident assistant or director for guidance. They may give you tips to resolve the conflict or give you the option of moving to a different room. Don’t hesitate to speak up.
Another thing to keep in mind is constructive problem solving. If you have a major conflict with your roomie, sit down and talk to them about it. Make sure they know where you are coming from. Chances are they never knew their actions were bothersome because they never had a roommate. Learn how to use I-statements as well (I feel ___ when you ___ because___). An example is “I feel annoyed when you come in at 2 AM because you wake me up and I have a class at 7 AM every day.” I-statements are not accusatory, so they are more likely to facilitate a peaceful resolution.
Finally, remember that having a roommate is a rewarding learning experience. Don’t immediately apply for a single room; you never know what type of roommate you will get. You may make the best memories of your life.