How to Be a Good College Roommate

November 01, 2018

How to Be a Good College Roommate

What am I like to live with?

Often, when we enter into a new situation we look either for how others will make accommodations to meet our expectations, or belittle our own value.


Each of these perspectives is based on COMPARISON.


I’m going to make a suggestion – don’t compare.

Be easy to live with because you focus on the job of being a good roommate.


Your roommate may be the result of a questionnaire, a friend you chose, or just a blind assignment from the college.  You may know something about them, even have met them, or are in college Face Book group.   And, you haven’t moved into the space with them yet.


Take a breath, and imagine your roommate walking into the room, to meet you.


1.    Are you eagerly awaiting their arrival or have you already chosen the better bed or view?

2.    Do you have boxes, suitcases, and piles of stuff all over the room? 

3.    Are you, and possibly your family, in a good mood, sad, anxious, friendly, tense, stiff, or enthusiastic?

4.    Do you have a lot of friends hanging out?

5.    Do you already have your schedule out and ready to tell your new roommate what works best for you, or are you waiting to see if they are the roommate from hell?


Let’s look at the situation logically.

You are who you are, and they are who they are.


The task you share is to successfully live in a space together.  You don’t need to be best friends, enjoy each other’s company, or even share the same politics. Those are relationship characteristics that can be pleasant, if you are looking for it.  What if you don't even want to talk with your roommate?  That is something to consider because it impacts how well you will do your job.


Your job is to

share space

use the room fairly,

and communicate regularly with each other.


Re-examine the list together.

1.    Look at the room together.  Who prefers which location for bed and desk? It may just work out. If not, decide when the switch will be.

2.    If you haven’t, list who brought what now, and decide if extras can be returned with parents, or if you need something new. If you can’t return it what will you do?

3.    Emotions are not facts.  Accept that you will experience a full range of emotions during your time together. Do either of you need space when things happen? What are you like when you feel happy, sad, scared, excited?  You don't need to go into a deep psychological explanation, but it's nice to give someone a heads up.

4.    Setting up a room is not a time for friends to be hanging out; meet them later.  Also, this is a good time to talk about what the room’s FRIEND POLICY is.  This room belongs to you and your roommate—how can you each be respectful to the other when it comes to friends?

5.    Are you concerned about getting enough sleep, figuring out the right place to study, being uncomfortable about college, wanting to try everything? Surprisingly, your roommate may have some of the same concerns. This is as new event for everyone, right?

6.    Talk about the big 3

·      you are stressed about a test or paper and need the room to study,

·      you are sick

·      you need the room (suddenly) for an intimate encounter

Make a plan now.

Finally, put a weekly 15-minute meeting time in your planner to check in.  It sounds dumb but will save so much trouble.



Your mantras: share space, use the room fairly, communicate regularly.  Find drama elsewhere—keep your living space sacred and respect those who you share that space with. You will have an awesome roommate experience, and maybe find a good friend.

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