Home Sweet Dorm

How to be a good roommate

Having a roommate in college is super different than sharing a room with a sibling at home.  You’ll share a relatively small space with a stranger who you know very little about.  How can you make it a good experience?

Meet Kenzie.  She was in your spot just two years ago, wondering what it would to be like to live with someone she hardly knew in her first year of college.  This year, Kenzie was a Resident Advisor to over 100 freshmen. She shares her top three tips on how to be a good roommate.

1. Facebook to the rescue. Most schools have Facebook Groups for freshmen with roommate questionnaires attached to them. Think of the questionnaire like “Roommate speed dating.” You, and everyone else, is posting about who you are, what you’d be like as a roommate and what you’d like in a potential roommate.

A roommate questionnaire gives you a great framework to get to know yourself and your own habits better, and start thinking about what you feel comfortable with and what you don’t. Later, it can help you and your roommate(s) to set clear boundaries right off the bat and agree on some ground rules..

2. Be respectful. Everyone, including your roommate, has a different story than yours. Your roommate may have different values than yours too. Seek to understand them, not judge. Remember you’re representing Christ. Give grace. Have an open mind. Hear their side of the story first and then you can share your values, backstory, what you’re comfortable with and what you aren’t. Take the initiative to talk about sleep schedules and respect quiet hours. Keep things cleaner than you normally would, especially shared spaces. It’s another way to show respect.


3. Communication is key. Managing conflict is a part of life and even when it feels awkward, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. If an issue comes up, talk it out. Try using “I” statements like “I feel …”, “ I think…”, “ I observe….” Avoid “you” statements that end up sounding like accusations. Keep a positive attitude and keep your heart in the right place, a place of love and grace. More than likely, the conversation will go just fine.

Get to it. Find out if you can get to know your soon-to-be roommate today. Set strong healthy boundaries, be respectful, and communicate well. You might just find your new BFF!

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