10 Tips for Getting Along With Your College Roommate

You may have grown up living with lots of siblings, or this may be your first time sharing your living space with someone else. While having a roommate inevitably has its challenges, it can also be a great part of your college experience. Follow these ten tips to make sure you and your roommate keep things pleasant and supportive throughout the year (or even years!)

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1. Be Clear About Your Expectations From the Beginning

Do you know in advance that you hate it when someone hits the snooze button fifteen times every morning? That you're a neat freak? That you need ten minutes to yourself before talking to anyone after you wake up? Be transparent about your habits and preferences. It's not fair to expect your roommate to read your mind. Communicating what you need is one of the best ways to eliminate problems before they become problems.

2. Address Problems When They're Little

Is your roommate always forgetting their stuff for the shower, and taking yours? Are your clothes being borrowed faster than you can wash them? You should address the problem the earlier they pop up. The longer you wait, the more you will grow to dislike your roommate, and the harder it will get to find a solution.

3. Respect Your Roommate's Stuff

This may seem simple, but it's probably one of the biggest reasons why roommates experience conflict. Don't think they’ll mind if you borrow their cleats for a quick soccer game? For all you know, you just stepped over an uncrossable line. Don't borrow, use, or take anything without getting permission first. You should always respect others’ space.

4. Be Mindful of Who You Bring Into Your Room—and How Often

While you may love studying in a group, your roommate may not. Be mindful of how often you bring people over. If your roommate studies best in the quiet, and you study best in a group, can you alternate who hits the library and who gets the room? Make sure you’re on the same page.

5. Lock the Door and Windows

This may seem like it has nothing to do with roommate relationships, but how would you feel if your roommate's laptop got stolen during the ten seconds it took you to run down the hall? Or vice versa? Locking your door and windows is a critical part of keeping safe on campus. After all, you never want to be to blame for another person’s stolen things.

6. Be Friendly, Without Expecting to Be Best Friends

Don't go into your roommate relationship thinking that you are going to be best friends for the time you're at school. It may happen, but expecting it sets both of you up for trouble. Drop all preconceived notions and get to know them, there’s a chance you two won’t click. You should be friendly with your roommate but also make sure you have your own social circles.

7. Be Open to New Things

There’s a chance your roommate is from a land far away that you’ve never even heard of. Their religion and lifestyle could be completely foreign and may even seem a little odd and outlandish to you. Be open and respectful to new ideas and experiences, especially as it relates to what your roommate brings into your life. That's why you went to college in the first place, right?!

8. Stay Open to Change

You should expect to be constantly transforming throughout college. And the same should happen to your roommate if all goes well. As the semester progresses, realize things will change for both of you. Be comfortable addressing things that unexpectedly come up, setting new rules, and being flexible to your changing environment.

9. Address Problems When They're Big, Too

You may not have been totally honest with tip #2, or you may suddenly find yourself with a roommate who goes wild after being shy and quiet for the first two months. If a big problem somehow comes up, get rid of it quickly instead of allowing it to fester.

10. If Nothing Else, Follow the Golden Rule 

The golden rule taught since the first day of kindergarten: treat others the way you’d want to be treated. That’s the best way to get along with your roommate. No matter what your relationship is at the end of the year, you can take comfort knowing you acted like an adult and treated your roommate with respect.