Adjusting to college life requires handling a lot of new things at once. You have to balance classes, social activities, friends, finances and, most likely, a new living situation with a roommate. Living in tight quarters with little privacy can be challenging, especially if this is the first time either of you’ve had to share a room.
Most colleges provide contact information for your roommate(s) before you get to school. If so, reach out to them to say hello and make some initial decisions about what you’ll each bring and what items will or will not be shared. It’s also a good way to start communicating, setting expectations and establishing boundaries.
Before you move into your new space, review the dorms rules on issues like visitation and drinking. Also look into any policies about items you can or cannot bring in the dorm, like microwaves or furniture, before you start shopping.
Once at school, here are some tips for keeping the lines of communication open:
- Set clear ground rules for drinking, smoking, bringing friends over, sleepovers, sharing food and clothing, music and TV. It’s important you and your roommate understand (and respect) each other’s expectations.
- Share personal information, preferences and pet peeves, so your roommate will be able to read your signals.
- Be honest about what you do and do not feel comfortable with. Talking behind your roommate’s back can make the situation worse.
- If you are having disagreements, raise concerns by using “I” statements (“I feel ___ when you ___ because ____."; "I want you to_____.”) instead of accusing your roommate of causing problems. Try to offer solutions, not just complaints.
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