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As a freshman, you often don't get to choose your first roommate. But getting off to a good start with your new dorm mate can help make your college experience so much better.
There's a good chance you'll end up spending a lot of time together, so keep these tips in mind both before school gets started and as the semester drags on.
Steps to Take Before Arriving on Campus:
1. Call your future roommate to get acquainted
Most colleges and universities will notify you in advance of who your new roommate will be.
Call them up and introduce yourself.
Ok, ok, you can also text them. Introduce yourself and get to know them a bit too. You can talk about what classes your planning on taking, what your thinking about majoring in, and what you're nervous about.
This can also be a good opportunity to coordinate what you are bringing to school. You probably don't both need to bring TV's, coffee makers, microwaves, etc.
Obviously, you don't need to tall them everything you're planning on bringing but by finding out about the big stuff you might be able to pack a little lighter.
Random tip: Also bring board/card games to play with your roommate. Fun dorm games can be a great way to get to know your fellow classmates.
2. Use social networks to stay in touch
Check out their profile on Instagram, Snapchat, or anywhere else you're both active.
You may learn some useful information, such as their preferences in music or if you're both fans of the same author. You can also get a sense of their personality.
Social media accounts can also be a great way to stay in touch before school starts and throughout the year.
Steps to Take While You're Sharing a Dorm Room
The most important factor in any roommate (and relationship) situation is to communicate effectively and regularly.
It can be helpful to establish some dorm or apartment rules such as everyone is responsible for washing their own dishes.
As the semester goes on there's a good chance you'll get annoyed with each other at some point (or many points). Rather than let issues fester bring them up.
Establishing a weekly roommate discussion can be helpful for this. It gives you a set opportunity to discus conflict. It can also give you an opportunity to coordinate schedules for when you'd like some time alone or when you're having friends over.
Even if you wind up socializing in different circles, make the effort to exchange daily pleasantries. Always be courteous and respectful.
5. Address conflicts directly and tactfully
Creating a friendly atmosphere will make it easier to discuss the inevitable disagreements that arise.
We've already talked about this a bit above so I won't elaborate too much more.
Just remember, if you let major issues get under your skin it will slowly drive a wedge between you and your roommate and your semester will drag by ever so slowly.
6. Establish the basic house rules
Try to prevent major conflicts by developing mutually agreeable house rules. Do this the first week or so of the semester.
I don't recommend waiting until halfway through the semester to try and establish them. People settle into daily habits rather quickly so getting rules down asap can really help.
Hopefully, you'll be able to find a level of neatness that satisfies you both. And remember, this is a relationship. And like any relationship both parties need to sacrifice to make it work.
Discuss in advance your expectations about having company over in your shared quarters.
7. Be willing to compromise
Sharing a tiny dorm room requires patience, tolerance and willingness to compromise.
Speak up when you have to, but strive to accommodate personal differences that don't really impact your safety or well-being.
8. Be sensitive to different financial situations.
You and your new roommate may come from very different backgrounds.
Help each other to feel comfortable by proposing social activities that will not create an excessive financial burden.
At one point I had a very wealthy roommate. She was always suggesting activities that were way out of budget for the rest of us.
It took a while but eventually she learned to suggest things that were free or much cheaper which made it easier to involve everyone.
9. Respect each other's property
Treat your roommate's property with at least as much consideration as you do your own.
Ask before borrowing anything. Don't just assume it's alright. And return it as soon as your done.
I've had roommates "borrow" clothes and not return them for months. Unacceptable.
Hold yourself responsible for anything your guests use or damage if you invite them into your shared space.
10. Get outside help if needed
Many colleges and universities will ask you to wait until a full semester before switching roommates.
While this may feel like an eternity when you have a roommates you don't get along with learn to be patient. You can learn a lot in theses situations if you choose to.
However, if you see signs of serious issues like an eating disorder or substance abuse, it's wise to consult a trusted older adult rather than try to handle it yourself.
A little common sense and courtesy will help you and your new roommate to get along. Even if you are complete opposites, you can be cordial and provide each other with mutual support. You may even wind up becoming life-long friends.