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Roommate Etiquette 101

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Posted on December 15, 2014 by Delaware Valley College.

As you're getting ready for your first year of college and moving into your residence hall, it's normal to be nervous about living with someone you've never met before. Remember that they're probably feeling the same way you are. 

Sharing a room can be trying at times, but keep these few tips in mind and you'll be able to peacefully coexist with your roommate.

Talk to your roommate before moving in. Contact your roommate before school starts so you can talk about living conditions to help avoid a lot of issues that could otherwise arise. You can also work out who’s going to bring what essential item for the room

Respect your roommate. Remember that you’re not the only one on a schedule, so be considerate, respectful and courteous of your roommate. Use headphones when you listen to music, respect personal space—both physical and emotional—and clean up after yourself. Some sleeping quarters include shared bathrooms, so long showers aren’t appropriate during the morning rush.

Respect your roommate’s stuff. You may think it’s cool that you’re sharing a room with someone who’s the same size as you with great taste in clothes, but that doesn’t make it okay to take their things without asking. The same goes for food, laundry detergent and everything else in your room.

Address issues head on. If something is bothering you, such as your roommate leaving dirty dishes all over the room, discuss it with them. Don’t be passive-aggressive, manipulative or mean. When you get angry about something that your roommate did (or didn't do) and you don't address the situation, your anger will just build up, causing you to fly off the handle at any little problem in the future. This isn't fair to you or your roommate.

Instead, calmly ask your roommate if they can start cleaning up after themselves. Whether they've been busy, haven't noticed, or are just plain messy, chances are they'll try to start tidying up more often.

Be respectful about having guests in your room. Bringing your study group to your room may be fun for you, but your roommate may not like it. Your roommate may also have a problem with the person you’re dating spending night after night in your room. Discuss guests with your roommates before having them over. Perhaps you can work out a schedule where one night you can have guests over and the next night your roommate has guests over.

Be the bigger person. Sometimes, there are situations where you just won’t get along with your roommate. Try to handle things like an adult as often as you can, even if your roommate doesn’t. You’ll feel better knowing you treated your roommate with respect. 

Remember these tips for dealing with a roommate when first moving into your residence hall. Some roommates click right away, while others take some time to develop friendships—and some roommates just simply never will be friends. Just go into your first year of college with an open mind and learn to accept each other’s differences. This is one of the first of many lessons you’ll learn in college.