College is full of new experiences: a new sense of freedom, many new responsibilities, and (for some) a new place to live. Whether you met your college roommate(s) in high school, or they were assigned to you by your school, there are several things that you can do to ensure the success of your roommate relationship(s). With clear communication, compromise, and patience, living away from home will bring you lifelong memories and lasting friendships.
It is important to remember that one of the most important aspects of going to college is meeting new people, and that starts with whom you live. Read on for advice on how to communicate to prevent problems before they escalate, plus a real-world example and testimony of a conflict encountered by roommates and how it was resolved.
Set Expectations and Boundaries
One of the most important pieces of advice for new roommates is this: don’t force a friendship. It is necessary to have time away from the person that you are living with as well as time that you will spend together in your dorm or apartment. Whether you have known your roommate for years or you are meeting them for the first time, remember that memories take time and come naturally. Along with spending time apart, be respectful when spending time together. Set clear boundaries early on and make respect a priority. It is super fun to live with someone, and it can be a bond like no other, but no matter what you must remember to respect each other’s time, belongings, and privacy.
Resolve Conflicts Through Communication
In my time with my freshman year roommate, we only encountered one conflict together. While I was taking a nap, my roommate left to take a shower (we had communal bathrooms). I woke up from my nap to a text from a friend asking if I’d like to join them for lunch. I failed to notice the fact that my roommate’s clothes were on her bed, and I left and locked the door. Because I was napping when she left, she didn’t bring her key with her and was locked out in her shower robe. I received a call from a neighbor explaining that I needed to get back to the dorm, and I quickly returned and unlocked the door. My roommate didn’t speak to me for three days, which also upset me because I felt that I hadn’t totally been in the wrong. After a very uncomfortable (yet temporary) silent treatment, we had a conversation where we apologized to each other and agreed that we had both been at fault. She bought a cute whiteboard to put on our door so that we could write on it if one of us was just leaving the room for a moment, and we each agreed to take our keys with us anytime we left the room.
Your roommates are going to be the people who are there for you when no one else is. Literally, they are the ones who are physically there. Depending on the person, it may even feel like they are there even when you may not want them to be. Remember this: it is totally normal to get annoyed by little things or feel like you need time to yourself. It is okay to ask for 30 minutes alone, and it is also okay to invite them to get lunch with you! The most important thing in any relationship is communication. Focus on the good and talk about how you can resolve the not-so-good together.
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