Back to College- 10 Tips for Dealing with Roommates

Hello everyone, today I have the third post in my Back to College series. This post is a list of my 10 best tips for dealing with roommates. As many of you know, I am an only child so going to college (and sharing a room) was a bit daunting for me. But I made it through, and so can you!

Before I get into these tips, I want to give you a bit of a backstory of my roommate situation. I lived in a triple which means 3 girls to a room, so I had 2 roommates. At the beginning of the year, I had S & C (I am just using their initials for their privacy) but at the end of the first semester, C moved out and my friend from home, B, moved in.

So let’s get into the tips.

1.) Accept that you might not be best friends.

More often than not, roommates do not become best friends. When you go into the situation expecting to be super buddy-buddy with your roommate, you may be left disappointed when you find yourself not being friends.

In my experience, the first week, everyone is friendly. It may seem like these people are great friends for you, but that might change. S, B, & I were close but we certainly each had our own circle of friends outside of each other. This allowed us to be cordial to each other without having to be together every second of every day.

2.) Set rules in the beginning of the year. 

One of the biggest problems people tend to have with their roommates is poor communication if you set rules at the start, communication will be much easier. Typically, your RA will come in and force you to talk about some basic things, but there are topics that you might need to talk about prior to that meeting.

Here are some things that I’d recommend talking about:

  • Lights- decide when someone can turn the lights on. Are you okay with them coming back at 2 am and flipping the lights on? Would you rather have them use their phone flashlight?
  • Cleaning- this is a big one. Who is going to clean the sink, toilet, shower, etc.? Are the responsibilities shared? How often should everything be cleaned?
  • Buying shared items- things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies and any other shared items should be divided up so that no one person is buying everything. Does it rotate every time something is needed? Is one person going to buy toilet paper and another buy paper towels?
  • Noise- some people are not as courteous as others when it comes to noise. Are headphones a requirement? When can someone watch the TV? Is there a quiet hour within the room? Are you okay with someone using the microwave at 6 am?
  • Guests- most people will have friends in college (stay tuned for a post on that tomorrow) that will visit each other’s rooms to party, hang out or do homework. How late can guests stay? Are overnight guests allowed? Do you need a heads-up before someone comes over?

Of course, there are many more things, but it really depends on the people living in the room and the dynamic you want to create.

3.) Take classes together.

At Chapman, dorms are based on major so you will (most likely) be living with someone who shares your major. This makes it really easy to take classes with your roommates and share notes, study tools and even textbooks. S and I both took a communications class together which made it really easy to work on projects, do homework and study for tests.

B and I took a philosophy class together before we were roommates which helped us bond before living together.

4.) Talk about what you’re willing to share. 

My roommates and I shared pretty much everything from the TV to the Keurig to each other’s clothes. If we wanted to eat something, we would text the other person to ask them if we could have it. Sharing clothes, shoes and makeup also really came in handy when Recruitment came along.

If you don’t want to share your food, tell your roommate that. If you’re okay buying groceries together, do that. Think about what you’re comfortable sharing and let your roommate know. Remember that no one can read your mind, so don’t expect them to.

5.) Privacy.

This is a huge one. By the end of the year, my roommates and I would pee with the door open, with no hesitation. There were basically no secrets and we saw each other at their worst. That being said, situations like that are pretty rare.

Most people need privacy. If your roommate doesn’t want to hear you pee, close the door. If you aren’t comfortable hearing about their drunken mistakes, tell them (nicely). Remeber: you don’t have to be friends.

This also comes in handy when someone has their SO over. If you’re coming back to the room unexpectedly, let them know. I promise it will save a lot of uncomfortable feelings.

6.) If there is a problem, talk to them about it. 

If one of your roommates is being especially difficult, there is no harm in talking to them about it. I had friends whose roomie would leave food open for days or forget to flush the toilet. Telling the person that bothers you might fix the situation overnight. Try to remember that everyone was raised differently and that they can’t read your mind.

7.) If you can’t solve it on your own, use your RA. 

As I mentioned earlier, your RA will come into your room at the beginning of the year to talk about basic rules and behaviors. The reason they do this is so when problems arise, there is a contracting document that lays out the rules.

When you bring something up to your RA, they will have a mediation meeting with your roommates to help fix the situation. If this doesn’t work, they will help you move into another room.

One of my best friends went through this and it wasn’t a huge problem for her at all. Plus, she LOVED her new roommate.

8.) Be willing to compromise.

In life we rarely get exactly what we want and the roommate situation is no different. Like I mentioned earlier, people are raised in different ways and expecting them to do everything your way is unreasonable and rude.

Be willing to compromise on things like how something is cleaned or whether or not they make their bed each day. This will keep the room peaceful and mediated.

9.) Try to be a good roommate

In compromising, do your best to appeal to your roommates’ needs as well. Simply being nice and courteous to them will go a long way.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts or being a good roommate:

Do:

  • Keep your space clean- make your bed, put your clothes away, throw away your trash.
  • Keep in communication with them- give them a heads-up if you’re not coming home that night, let them know if you’re coming back earlier than expected, tell them if you are planning on having guests over.
  • Share the space- keep your stuff on your side of the room, limit the space you take up on shared shelves and cabinets.

Don’t:

  • Make a mess- don’t leave dirty clothes all over the floor, don’t let food get moldy.
  • Fall of the grid- don’t ignore their texts, don’t come back unexpectedly when you know they have someone over, don’t have a party without telling them.
  • Control the whole room- don’t spend 30 minutes in the bathroom when you know they have to brush their teeth, don’t let your stuff take over their space, don’t take their stuff out of the fridge just to fit yours in (yes, this happens).

Overall, just treat them how you want to be treated.

10.) Be a friend when they need one. 

College can get really hard, especially during recruitment season. At one point or another, tears will be shed and pain will be felt. When they need a shoulder to cry on, do your best to not ignore their tears for your Netflix. It takes a lot to cry in front of someone you’re not close to, so let them know that their room is a safe space to feel all of the feelings you need.

This also goes for when they are throwing up (sick or drunk). If they need someone to hold their hair back, be there. Get them water, crackers, medicine and a blanket. Being nice to them won’t hurt you at all and they will greatly appreciate it.

That concludes my third post of the series. I hope this helps make your roommate situation a bit easier. I will see you tomorrow with another post!

Have any roommate tips to share? Post a comment below to spread the roommate goals!

Lots of love,

Ellie

Instagram: elllie.belllie

Twitter: elliescrazylife

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Email: thecrazylifeofellie@gmail.com

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*Disclaimer: some of the links above are affiliate links that will benefit me in some way. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to ask down below.

Have a burning college question? Ask it in the comments below or on any of my social media accounts. You may even see it become a post!

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