College guidance

Roommates in College

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Cherilynn Tan
February 10, 2024
2 min
Roommates in College
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Roommates in College

One of the most exciting parts about going to college is the opportunity to live in campus housing (dorms) with other students.

The most basic and immediate among these is, of course, dealing with roommate challenges. It is almost certain that you will have a roommate in college, regardless of where you attend school or whether you live on-campus or off-campus. Unless you plan on renting your condo or house by yourself, you will need the composure and communication skills to navigate this important new relationship with your roommate.

What are the most common issues?

  • Having different sleep schedules
  • Being loud, listening to music, playing games, or watching TV, especially at odd hours
  • Not cleaning, having messy living or eating habits
  • Poor personal hygiene, especially not washing laundry or bed sheets
  • Borrowing or stealing
  • Inviting unexpected guests
  • Bill payment or cost-sharing
  • Lack of respect for rules or boundaries, especially for privacy
  • Immodest behavior, especially being partially or wholly unclothed

How can you deal with these issues? Before universities pair roommates, they usually ask students to complete a roommate preferences survey that helps avoid common behavioral conflicts, especially around sleep, noise, and study habits. In short, carefully reflect on any survey questions and answer them truthfully.

Inevitably, conflicts will always arise around some (or all!) of these issues. While it’s impossible to predict these conflicts, having an awareness and understanding of these issues will make it easier for you to prevent them, especially if you can discuss them early before the semester starts.

As for how to deal with a wide variety of common roommate challenges, consider checking out this book by Harlan Cohen, who is widely acclaimed for his advice and anecdotal writing: The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.

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