Establishing Roommate Rules

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I’m sure you've heard at some point that roommates can either make or break your freshman year of college, or any year for that matter. Although horror stories of incompatible roommate matches can make for great Thanksgiving dinner conversations with the family, they really don’t fit into anyone’s ideal version of the college experience. Even for the most seemingly unbearable living situations, I’m here to assure you there are ways to make it work and avoid being the next dorm disaster.

Living with someone new is really all about finding common ground. This year, I live in what’s called a super suite, where three individual rooms of two girls each share two bathrooms and a common living area. Yeah, I know. A lot of people. Therefore, communicating living expectations was even more imperative than usual.

As soon as the information was out, one of my suite-mates immediately formed a group chat so we could get to know one another before we were fully immersed in each other’s lives in the dorm. My actual roommate was a good friend from home, but this was a great way to meet the other four and to start getting a feel for their interests and what they figured their schedules would look like. Right away upon moving in, we set a plan for how we wanted things to look and the condition we wanted the dorm to remain in. This might seem awkward to do with people you don’t know, but it makes a huge difference in the dynamic of the room in the long run, especially if you’re adamant on keeping it a certain way. Additionally, my RA’s made the six of us go over and sign an expectations contract, thereby making us establish the rules on paper (neat-freaks rejoice!) which helped us seal the deal on a clean super-suite.

Beyond starting off on a good, clear note with your roommates, it’s also really good to continue a relationship with them in some way. Ideally, try and make a friend out of them since it’s inevitable that you’re going to be around each other quite a bit. If you can’t do this, however, be civil and consciously make an effort to establish a kind and respectful relationship. If the relationship is good, then people will be more inclined to be considerate regarding your room wishes.

Finally, even after all rules are established, be patient. Nobody is perfect, and even the most neat roommate is going to leave a cup by the sink or a pizza box on the table every once in a while. It happens. Relax. Realize that everyone is just trying to get the hang of the whole college thing just like you, and you’ll be set for a great year.