Sharing a 115 square foot space with a perfect stranger is not always easy. There are always going to be differences between roommates, but that doesn’t mean there has to be constant conflict. Knowing how to deal with small issues before they become big ones is an important skill, and willingness to compromise is key.
Be Prepared to Share
With family sizes being smaller than they were 50 years ago, many students are not used to sharing their belongings. In college, you are forced to share your entire living space. Learning how to share can be a little painful, but as long as you understand that you and your roommate are each paying for the room, the idea of it being both of yours is easier to fathom. Respect your roommate’s personal belongings, and he or she should respect yours. However, discuss which items you are willing to share- including a mini fridge, closet, some food, etc., and never borrow anything without asking first.
Talk about yourselves
To start off on the right foot, have a discussion with your roommate the day after move-in. Talk about what time you like to go to sleep, whether you’re messy or clean, what time your classes are at, if you study often, if you like to party a lot, or anything else that might give you an idea of what kind of a person your roommate is. After you discuss your preferences, you’ll have a better understanding of how to be respectful toward each other. For example, if your roommate has a class at 8 in the morning, it would be rude to leave the TV blaring until 1 in the morning.
Bring up issues immediately
If something about your roommate’s behavior is bothering you, bring it up right away! Letting things go will just give more fuel to the fire when another conflict arises, and discussing the issue like an adult will make your roommate more likely to compromise or apologize.
Bringing up issues calmly and in a friendly manner will set the tone of a discussion between you and your roommate. In turn, becoming defensive when your roommate brings up an issue, makes communication difficult. To promote discussion and come to a solution, approach every problem from the other person’s shoes. Maybe they don’t realize their behavior, or maybe you’re the one whose being inconsiderate- no matter what, approaching your roommate with respect will allow him or her to respect you as well. Here is an article we found on Huffingtonpost that also had some interesting tips.
While many students don’t take advantage of the roommate counseling services provided at their college or university, counselors on campus are trained to solve issues between roommates. Sometimes, roommates who were once good friends become hostile because of roommate issues. In order to preserve these friendships, or at least survive the rest of the year, try counseling services. Counselors will teach you how to facilitate communication and help you prevent future disputes as well. According to the ACCA this is extremely important.
If all else fails, put in a request for a room change. Colleges try to be as accommodating as possible, but sometimes there are room shortages. If you must request a room change, go to speak to someone in your residential life office, and explain your case. Remember, your case will be stronger if you’ve already taken advantage of the counseling services on campus.