Living in a dorm with a stranger is a totally new experience. It can be scary, but it can also be so fun. These five tips will help you start off on the right foot with your roommate and continue a positive relationship with them, even if things aren’t always perfect.

  • Make Contact

Meeting a stranger the first night you are going to live together puts a lot of pressure on that initial meeting. Most colleges provide contact information ahead of time. Touch base with your roommate, introduce yourself and ask them questions. Plan who will bring the bigger stuff like microwaves and mini-fridges. Talk about what things you are willing to share and what you want to have of your own. Planning these things out will help set some expectations before you even arrive.

  • Set Rules and Expectations

Don’t wait until you are totally annoyed with one of your roommate’s habits to talk about what’s ok in the room. Tell each other your expectations ahead of time. For example: if you are an early riser, agree to get out of the room until 10:00 am. If you are a night owl agree to stay out after 10:00 pm until you are ready to sleep. College is full of places to be, at all hours, other than your room. Plan how you will give each other some space. 

  • Listen

Everyone likes to share their story and be heard. You will connect with your roommate by asking them questions about themselves, and really listen to their answers. What do they miss most from home? What do they want to major in? Who is in their family? Staying genuinely interested in your roommate as a person will help you get along better.

  • Adventure Together

Discover suggests that you make a college bucket list and then plan a time to check off the items together. Once a week do something that you are both interested in so you have a way to connect other than just sharing space. This might be the right time to share any concerns or annoyances without getting on each other’s nerves, because you are doing something fun together.

  • Be Open

Living with a roommate in a dorm will be a totally different experience than living at home. You may find some things that you thought would be impossible (such as sharing a bathroom with 100 people) isn’t that hard. And, other things that never bothered you, drive you mad (your roommate tapping his pencil while you study). Be honest about your needs and proactive about finding solutions. Suggest a solution where you take the action, such as studying in the library instead of your room. When you put the work into a healthy roommate relationship, you may end up with a life long friend.


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