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Tips for Being a Good Roommate

Tips for Being a Good Roommate
KeriLynn Engel

As a first year college student with a new roommate, this may be your first time living with anyone besides your family, and the adjustment can be hard.

You may be too busy choosing your courses and packing for dorm life to give much thought to your new roommate, but how well you get along with your roommate can make or break your college experience.

Your dorm room is your home away from home, and it should be a place you can relax and recharge at the end of the day. If you’re not getting along with your roommate, you’ll end up dreading returning to your dorm at night.

Not every roommate will end up being your best friend. But if you follow these tips to being the best roommate you can be, your room can still be a harmonious haven.


1. Know Yourself and Communicate Your Needs
You may not have given it much thought before, but you have habits and routines that you’re used to keeping at home. You may need quiet time in the morning to prepare for classes, or prefer to listen to music while studying.

If you’re lucky, your roommate will share many of your routines and preferences. But if not, it’s important for you to be direct and communicate your needs in a respectful way. It might help to explain why a certain behavior is helpful to you, so your roommate can understand where you are coming from.

2. Be Flexible and Willing to Compromise
Communicating your needs is important, but it’s just as important to remember that your roommate has her own needs as well. College is the perfect time to experiment and try new things, so be willing to compromise and meet your roommate halfway.

For example, if you prefer silence while studying, but your roommate needs to listen to music to concentrate, you could alternate days and study at the library sometimes instead of in your room.

3. Get to Know Your Roommate
After getting to know your roommate’s habits, you may think the two of you could never get along. Don’t judge too quickly; if you take time to get to know your roommate you could discover that you have more in common than you think.

4. Consider Creating a Roommate Contract
You and your new roommate can use a roommate contract to clarify things such as visiting hours, quiet time, and cleaning duties. You can also discuss how you’ll resolve any issues that arise, and what to do if a roommate doesn’t follow the agreement.

5. Respect Your Roommate’s Space
Now that you share a room with someone, it’s important to set boundaries. It’s easy to find that you’re constantly using each other’s belongings and spending a lot of time together, but it’s more healthy to give each other space and respect each other’s property.

Be sure to ask before using your roommate’s things. If you find you’re spending too much time together, try to spend time with other friends and classmates as well, and give your roommate space to do the same.

6. Be Open and Honest
Don’t be afraid to talk about any small issues before they grow into larger ones. It’s better to resolve them early. It may seem like leaving a note is an easy and gentle way to inform your roommate of a problem, but speaking to her face-to-face is better since notes can be so easily misinterpreted.

7. Learn How to Resolve Conflict
Conflict is a natural part of any relationship. When disagreements arise, it’s important to know how to resolve them peacefully.

When you speak to your roommate, don’t focus on blaming her, but on her actions and how they affect you. Be calm and respectful, and listen to her side of the issue. Be willing to compromise to reach a resolution, but remember that you may just have to agree to disagree.

8. Assume Good Will
If your roommate does something that bothers you, don’t assume she was intending to negatively affect you. Give her the benefit of the doubt, and speak to her before guessing at her intentions. Remember that your roommate wants to enjoy her college experience as much as you do.

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