After spending 18 years living in the comfort of the family home, there comes a time for many young adults where their comfort bubble will burst as they are paired up with an unknown student and stuffed into a parking space sized concrete block rectangle. This 10’x15’ white walled florescent lit abode comes equipped with 1 window, 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 dressers, and a next door neighbor who just had to have that new subwoofer for his sound system. Now i’m not much of a Picasso but I hope you get the picture, I call it “Freshman Dorm Days”.
College is stressful enough on its own so making your dorm a stress and drama free zone is essential. The first step in doing so is picking the right roommate. Some people already have a friend that is going to the same school, so that makes for an obvious roommate choice right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. You have to put aside the fact that you are friends for one second and think about your living compatibility. Do you have similar habits, temperaments, cleanliness level? Is this one of your friends that is amazing in small doses but gets a little overwhelming during an extended stay? Now do not get me wrong, I have seen great friends also be great roommates so this is definitely an option, but I have also seen friendships cease to exist after a bad rooming experience. “Look for a compatible roommate, not a new best friend” as stated the the Teen Vogue article “Should You Find Your Freshman Year College Roommate Online?”
If you decide the friend route may not be your best option, or if that was never an option to begin with, there are other ways to find a roommate so you are not stuck praying for the luck of the draw. Most schools have roommate search services that can be used to find your new roommate. At my previous university I saw a very high success rate with the service they offered which lead to some amazing friendships. The service was something like eHarmony for roommates. You build a profile where you inserted in your interests, habits, goals, etc., and they would match you up with students who share those same traits. Don’t be afraid of using one of these services and start the roommate search early, the good ones go fast. After meeting online you should talk in person to make sure they are online as they are in person, ”Meeting online can be constructive if you take real steps to get to know somebody,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.
So you think you’ve done it, you think you’ve found your new roommate. Before you set anything in stone, some sort of a roommate agreement should be drawn up to set clear ground rules. The key phrase here is, “setting clear ground rules”. This is something that must be addressed early and both parties have to agree on these rules. If both parties cant agree or come to a compromise then it is back to find a new roommate. This also starts a dialog early about transparency and communication which are crucial in a mutual living situation. It may be difficult for some to be strait up and honest with others, but in this situation it is a must. If your roomie is doing something that makes your uncomfortable or irritated, then you should address the issues immediately and your roommate should feel comfortable being able to do the same with no one getting offended or angry. When I say address the issue I mean state the issue as clear as possible, I do not mean hint at it or passively aggressively say a few things about it, I mean lay it all out on the table so there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation.
Finally, the most important thing you can do is simply follow the golden rule, treat others as you would like to be treated. College is a stressful time so you must be understand that your roommate is going through a lot of the same struggles you are. Do not be quick to judge, they may be having a bad day. Do not act out of frustration, you may be having a bad day. Respect each others space, things, and ideals or beliefs. Leave the room and give your roommate space when they need it, and don’t be too shy to ask for that same space in return. Be patient, kind, respectful and most likely your new roommate will treat you the same way.