New Roommates: Tips for Meeting New People in College
I'm going to take a break from my normal, technology-centered articles, and talk about a social issue that will be facing thousands of young students all around in the world in the coming weeks. By senior year in high school, most students probably have their own group of friends, a best friend or two, and knowledge of where they stand on the social ladder. However, after graduation, a new phase of life begins - college.
College is certainly a great, amazing place to further one's education, learn many new things, and meet people that you will know for a lifetime. But during the first few weeks as a brand new college student, you are faced with so many new things it can seem overwhelming. There's orientation, new students, a dorm to move in to, saying goodbye to family, finding out where to eat, registering for class... and the list goes on. The focus of my article today is meeting new people, specifically your roommate, finding new friends, and forming lasting relationships.
College - Everyone There Is In the Same Boat
One of the most important things to realize when you are thinking about college is to understand that every person there (at least the Freshmen) are in the same situation as you. And unless they brought a 20-friend support group (which I highly doubt), they are also going to be looking for new people, new friends, and new relationships. So to calm your fear, realize that 90% of the people you meet are experiencing the exact same things as you.
One of the first people you will probably meet substantially is your roommate. Get to know him or her because that is the person you are going to be sleeping with (okay, near) for the next several months. If you met your roommate on Facebook or elsewhere beforehand, based on a compatibility match, there won't be as much to worry about. You can be assured that your roommate is similar to you in most major areas.
However, if move-in day is going to be a major surprise for you, be prepared for anything. You might be rooming with a 6 foot 10 basketball player or a girl who loves to sing... all the time. Many times, your roommate is going to be just as willing as you are to form a friendship. That is important. Here are some "roommate rules:"
- Make sure that you are friendly, but not too friendly.
- Offer to help set up the room, and make sure you aren't being bossy. Nothing says "rude" like demanding one side of the room versus the other.
- Make conversation. One major complaint I hear a lot from college students is that they don't know what to talk about with a new roommate. Seriously? You have (usually) come from two completely different places, different backgrounds, different schools, etc. Talk about it! Ask what major he or she is in.
- Deal with minor inconveniences for a a few days, then talk about rules. Day One of college is not the time to tell your roommate that he or she is not allowed to spend more than 17.5 minutes in the bathroom or that they can't watch TV after 11:30PM. The first few days are full of adjusting; deal with those things later.
- When you do have to deal with a problematic roommate, be nice! Most people would be more than willing to listen to music loudly in a common room rather than when you're studying, if you only asked. But not saying anything and then getting mad is not the way to deal with the situation.
- Be considerate of your roommate's studying habits and living style. It's not fair if you're playing music loudly when your roommate is studying. Nor is it fair to spread your clothes into their living space.
- Stress the importance of locking the door. This is one thing that doesn't need to wait. Immediately talk to your roommate about the importance of keeping your door locked when you're both not in the room.
- Attend orientation activities together. In order to learn new things about each other, you should attend the activities your college has set up for that exact purpose. Orientation is usually designed to help new students learn about each other and the college.
- Talk about each other's major, even if you are in different ones.
- Share schedules so you know where they are in case you need a spare key, etc.
- Become Facebook friends. I'm not a whole "stalker" advocate, but browsing their profile can certainly help you learn about them.
Your Roommate's A Jerk
So you tried everything and your roommate is still just being a plain jerk. Most colleges are not going to let you just change rooms every time you don't like the person you're with. So the best way to deal with a problematic roommate is to take matters into your own hands. If you're roommate is being a jerk:
- Never start being mean and rude to him or her. This will only make the problem worse.
- Don't play pranks on them or try to get them to laugh this way.
- If your safety or personal belongings are at risk, you can request another room. Most colleges will help you work through this with an RA.
- Try trading rooms. Not all colleges allow this, but some do. If you can find another set of roommates who are willing to trade, talk to them. Just make sure your new roommate isn't just as jerky.
- Talk to your roommate. Say "Hey, listen. I've been trying to make the college switch easier by blank, but you're habit of singing at night is preventing me from sleeping. Do you think you could practice singing while I'm at class?"
- If it still doesn't work, realize that the only time you're required to spend in your room is to sleep. You can study at the library or in common rooms. Essentially, minimize contact with your roommate.
- Make friends elsewhere and hang out with them. Finding friends at college isn't too difficult. Join a club or talk to people in your classes. When you're out of your room, you won't be seeing your roommate that much.
- Protect your stuff. Obviously if you aren't in the room as much, your valuables are vulnerable to whatever your jerky roommate wants to do to them. Take your computer with you at all times, or use a lock cable and password. Use a locking file cabinet to secure really important things and make sure you take your wallet with you.
Friends Outside the Dorm
As I mentioned above, making friends elsewhere in college isn't too hard. Follow some basic rules:
- Be yourself. This sounds like kindergarten, but you're not going to make the kinds of friends you want to hang out with if you act like someone you're not. If you are yourself, you will attract similarly minded people and enjoy the experience more.
- Join clubs and meet people with similar interests
- Join a special interest housing floor such as the "wellness floor" if you're into exercising and eating healthy foods.
- Talk to people in your classes
- Join Facebook groups for events and groups on campus
There are tons of ways to get involved and meet new people at college. With some luck, and these tips, hopefully your first years goes well!
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