In your college acceptance packet, you should have received a roommate compatibility survey. While there are some differences, most surveys ask questions about bedtime, noise levels, and neatness habits. Some are more detailed and go into personality tests and such.
Gearing Up For College
Unless you’re the easygoing, loves-to-meet-new-friends type, it’s a good idea to know and request your freshman roommate beforehand. Do you have any friends – high school, religious affiliation, summer jobs- – that will be attending the same campus? If they’re someone you can live with, try to pair up as freshman roommates. It makes the intimidating freshman experience less lonely.
However, if you’re like many freshmen, you’ll be winging it, and hopefully, that survey will have matched you with a suitable roommate.
Even if your future roomie is a stranger now, make them less of a stranger ASAP. Get in touch with your campus housing office. Let them know you’d like contact information (at least an e-mail) of your future roomie. Make every effort to get in touch with him or her beforehand. Social networks, like Facebook, can also be helpful. Not only will this initial meeting help determine your compatibility, but it will help you both lay down the ground rules.
Make sure you discuss important things like bedtime, study time, and how neat (or messy!) an environment you prefer. Now is also a good time to discuss who’s bringing what. Doubles when it comes to mini-fridges, microwaves and other dorm staples can crowd confined space.
Use the time to be sociable as well. What’s your roommate’s major? What are his/her hobbies? Where does he/she live? You may find you’re within commutable distance and can meet face to face before the big first day on campus. Again, having a friend takes the edge off first-day anxiety.
The Big Day
It’s arrived. You’re on campus and bombarded with orientation materials, free (usually crappy) pizza, and a bad case of information overload. Building rapport with your roommate will ensure you have a friend who’s in it with you when it comes to processing the mayhem of frosh week.
Maintaining an open mind and flexibility will go a long way as you and your roommate sort through personal belongings and come up with a furniture arrangement strategy. Work together to make your dorm room an expression of you while considering the other individual’s needs and desires.
Even after you’re settled, develop good habits early:
- If you didn’t buy, bring, or choose it, then you have no business using, eating, or losing it.
- Don’t be a pig. Your mom doesn’t live here, and she’s not going to pick up after you or do your laundry.
- Be respectful with the noise level. Not everyone has the same taste in entertainment.
- Watch your mouth. Racist jokes and off-color language may offend someone. A college dorm is a melting pot of ethnicities, lifestyles, and religions.
- If you’re roommate wants to zonk out early and you’re a night owl, consider looking for another room/location to study, socialize, etc.
Many lifelong friendships are established during the freshman rooming experience. Battle lines are also drawn across freshman dorm rooms. Following these tips can help ensure a successful roommate relationship in most cases.
However, if you find it doesn’t work out, give it a few weeks. You’ll make new friends in your classes and activities and you’ll be able to choose a better roomie. The housing office lady may raise her eyes (and bill your student account a change fee!) at you submitting a change request early in the semester, but it’s definitely worth it to have a compatible roommate.
The effort put into establishing a happy living situation will help ensure a good study environment and memorable years on campus.