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College Life: How To Live With Roommates

Updated on August 12, 2016

Survival of The Roommates

It's move-in day, and you finally get to see your roommates for the first time. These are the people who you will be living with for the current school year, and depending on whether or not you get along with them, they may be your roommates in the future as well. Meeting your roommates may seem exciting or terrifying, but if you play your cards right, you may end up being best friends.

There are always exaggerated stories about roommate problems that it sounds like it is rare to have the ideal roommates. I've heard tons of amusing stories, like bringing the boyfriend to the room all the time, stealing food, and snoring too loud. In my freshman year, I was lucky to get along with both of my roommates. There are key factors in getting through the school year without having a cat fight, so if you're worried about having problems with your roommates, don't fret.

Sticking With Your Promises

When students move in, they sign a roommate agreement form which lists the responsibility each roommate has while living together in the room. Questions like determining who will take out the trash on what day and when to vacuum are featured in the agreement. It is crucial to keep your word and remember to carry out your promises made on the form. Although the form is signed earlier in the year and people may forget what they agreed to, making the effort to remember your responsibilities give a sign that you are mature and easy to live with. Depending on your college’s rules, finding roommates for the next year can be difficult, so advertising yourself as the perfect roommate is a crucial objective.

Setting the Ground Rules

Besides signing the roommate agreement form, it is necessary to set up ground rules in order to live a peaceful and civil school life in your room. Discussing when to turn off the lights or when it is acceptable to bring in guests is important because it's not just you paying thousands of dollars for the room. One of the most complaints I have heard was that there was the roommate who always brought her boyfriend over and let him stay over until the next day. Having guests is a great way to make friends in college, but having guests all the time can get annoying to those living with you. If you cannot agree with some specific terms, try making a counter-offer. If that does not work, try speaking with the resident assistant living in your dorm to help solve any issues.

Being Clean. Duh.

When moving in, you get your own bed, desk, and closet. Having an unmade bed, messy desk, and cluttered closet is fine as long as it's only your territory. Leaving your dirty sock on a roommate’s bed is not polite and can lead to constant bickering. The floor must be visible at all times, and the trash should be taken out regularly to avoid nasty odors seeping in the room. Rooms in the dormitories can be small, and living with two other people with piles of garbage and laundry scattered around can be difficult to get by. Cleanliness is a must if you want your room to be habitable.


This is the most important part because without communication, there may be disagreements and misunderstandings that can lead to even more severe problems throughout the school year. Telling your roommates when you're uncomfortable or when you need to sleep early for a test is the key to having a healthy relationship with them. Also, even before move-in day, when you get the email of who your roommates are and their contact info, friend them on Facebook and message them to figure out who will bring what. You can all figure out who is able to bring the mini fridge, microwave, and printer to avoid duplication and taking up more space than needed in the tiny room.


The first step in making a memorable impression is to have a friendly personality and polite manners. You don't want to be the stereotypical snobby roommate that everyone secretly hates, do you? Of course not! When your roommate tells you they are uncomfortable with some of your actions, calmly ameliorate the problem. Do not start a war. Think about how you would like to be treated because empathy can go a long way.


Other common problems were hearing how people's roommates snored too loudly, stayed up too late blasting music, or constantly Skyping their significant other. If you are a light sleeper, this can be a serious problem for you because it can affect your sleeping schedule and how much sleep you get. Not having enough sleep can negatively affect your school work and performance. When you move in, I suggest getting a pair of earphones or headphones if you like to listen to music. Playing music out loud can be distracting for those around you. It is like you're trying to kick them out by making them study in a separate room. You can ask them if they mind you blasting your music, but if they do not consent, then don't make the problem worse. Also, if you have a significant other who does not go to your school, Skyping them is a great way to stay in touch. Even so, Skyping every day or every night in your room can bother your other roommates who are trying to study, sleep, or do their homework. Plan a specific time when your roommates are not in the room, or ask them when it is okay for you to Skype with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If none of those options work, find another place to Skype; there's always the laundry room, lounge, and anywhere outside the dormitory.

Helping Each Other Out

When you meet your roommates, ask them what their majors are. If they have the same major as you, then it is possible you will eventually share some classes. Helping each other out helps build connections and friendships. Remember, this is college, so the courses are expected to be exceptionally more difficult than high school. Even though there are other resources on campus, like tutoring and the optional sections, you are the closest resource available to your roommates. You'd be doing them a huge favor in assisting them with a confusing programming assignment or that one math problem that they cannot seem to solve. Of course, helping too much can get annoying at times, so when you are not in the mood of helping, calmly tell them that you would like a break.

Overall: Don't Worry!

When you meet your roommates, don't seem like a nervous train-wreck because it will deem you unapproachable and unappealing. As long as you respect each other, your school year might go swimmingly. Remembering your duties, tidying up, speaking up, having a positive attitude, being courteous of others, and being study buddies will definitely boost your reputation as being the best roommate. Being yourself and not worrying about the small details are what is important. Living with other people for a full year can be bothersome and annoying at times, but it is part of living the college life. It's okay to get into disagreements, but making the effort of trying to not be the dreaded and unfriendly roommate is what matters overall.


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