Keys to roommate success

Coming to college to live with individuals you have never met before can seem a little overwhelming, but can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of living on campus. Recognize that adjusting to a roommate takes a great deal of compromise and negotiation from everyone. The key to making your roommate relationship work is to discuss each other's likes and dislikes and to come to some agreements. Remember that you are your roommate's roommate.

Before moving on campus

Want to save yourself a lot of time, energy, and money?  Contact your roommate(s) before moving in and follow these four simple steps.

  1. Spend a few minutes on the phone getting to know each other. Find out what you like, don't like, favorite foods, music, classes you're taking, major, study habits, etc.
  2. Decide which items you and your roommate(s) are going to bring. You definitely don't want to show up on moving day and realize you have three refrigerators! Working together to decide who will be responsible for bringing what items will not only make packing and move in easier, but it will also save you from buying things someone may already have, saving you money!
  3. Decide and agree on what you want in your room. Working together and discussing what you want to have in your room will not only alleviate problems but will also make packing and organizing much easier. 
  4. Find out when everyone is moving in. Knowing when your roommate(s) are arriving and possibly coordinating your arrivals will make move-in a lot smoother. If you all arrive around the same time it may be really chaotic OR you may decide that it is much easier to organize and get settled in right away. You should work together to decide what is best for all of you.

Navigating those first few weeks

Using these helpful tips when you first meet each other will help alleviate some of the stress at the start of the semester and may help bring you closer together:

  • Rearrange the room together. Find a time when you can all get together and discuss what you want the room to look like. Then start moving!! Working together will help make moving and arranging much faster and easier. It is important that everyone is a part of the decision.
  • Go out together. Spending time together is the best way for you to get to know each other. At the beginning of the school year, there are a lot of welcome activities and events. Take advantage of these opportunities and attend the events as a group! You'll get along best when you know more about your roommates.
  • Complete a roommate agreement. All students will be required to complete and sign a roommate agreement form. You and your roommates will sit down and discuss the "rules and regulations" of the room. Discussion should include what and when you are willing and not willing to share, your feelings about guests, study hours/times, bedtimes, etc. Discuss anything and everything that you think is pertinent to all of you surviving the year together and getting along. You can also use it to touch base with your roommates or when a potential disagreement or conflict is on the horizon. Discussing these topics early and really talking with each other about your expectations and needs will help make your "on-campus experience" that much more successful. Your Resident Assistant/Community Assistant (RA/CA) will be available to assist you and your roommates in having these discussions and completing the form.
  • Talk to each other! Be honest about what you each need in a successful living environment, treat each other with respect when communicating concerns and needs and you can expect respect in return.

Keeping your space clean and organized

  • Put things away right after use.
  • Read your mail only once rather than keeping it in a pile - either file it away or recycle it right away.
  • Use the vacuum regularly. Vacuums may be checked out at the hall front desk.
  • Work out a cleaning schedule with your roommates. Be clear about what needs to be done, who is responsible and when it needs to be done.
  • Use boxes and plastic bins for storage.
  • Keep some basic cleaning supplies on hand including dust cloths, window cleaner and carpet cleaner.

Tips for handling conflict

  • Talk to your roommate openly, honestly, and with respect about what you need in a successful living environment. Listen respectfully to your roommate when they bring up concerns. Together, try to find a solution that will work for both or all of you. Revisit your roommate/suitemate agreement you made in the beginning of the year which may include additional information about how you and your roommate decided to resolve conflict.
  • Avoid using text messaging, e-mails, Facebook, and other social media to discuss or try to resolve conflict. This often results in passive aggressive comments and other negative interactions. In person meetings where you ask, listen, and share your concerns is always the best method.
  • Ask your Resident Assistant (RA) or Community Assistant (CA) for advice or support in addressing your concerns with your roommate/suitemate.
  • Schedule a roommate mediation with your RA/CA if you and your roommate are unable to resolve the situation on your own. At this time, it may be helpful to fill out a new roommate/suitemate agreement with the assistance of your RA/CA.