The Basics of Having College Roommates

If you're like many students, college will bring your first experience of sharing your living space with someone other than family. You may be wondering how to find college roommates and how to enjoy living together when you find them. This new experience can be both fun and challenging.

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The Benefits and the Challenges

Here are some of the things you can expect:

  • Company: Your roommate is new to college too, so you can learn how to navigate campus life together.
  • Support: It's nice to have someone who can help with studying, encourage your interests, or bring you soup when you're sick.
  • New perspectives: Your roommate might introduce you to a different culture or new points of view.
  • Shared activities and interests: You may have a roommate who likes to do the same things that you do.
  • Lack of privacy: You may not have the privacy you're used to and may have to seek out places like the library or coffee shop to get it.
  • Lifestyle differences: If your roommate's habits, personality, or schedule are very different from yours, it can be hard to adjust to living together.

Strategies for Success

Communicating often and openly is essential for any successful relationship. If you need help discussing something with your roommate, take advantage of the resources your college provides. Talking to your resident adviser (RA) is a good starting point.

Here are some tips for maintaining a good relationship with your roommate:

Make rules and respect them: A strategy that worked for Alicia, a first-year college student, was coming to an agreement with her roommate early in the year that set the boundaries for how they would live together. For example, she and her roommate agreed that if one of them is trying to study, the other won't blast music or record TV shows to watch later. After you agree on the guidelines, respect them.

Compromise: You and your roommate won't agree on everything, so you'll both have to make some compromises. For instance, if one of you is messy and the other likes things neat, the untidy one should keep the shared areas of the room clean. And the neat one should overlook untidiness in the roommate's area.

Show courtesy: If you behave politely to your roommate, your roommate is likely to follow your lead. Wish your roommate luck on an exam. Ask if you can pick up something while you're running errands. As Axel, a first-year college student, says, "When you have to deal with someone every day … it's important to stay on good terms." His advice is to try to make your roommate happy that they wound up with you.

Living harmoniously with someone requires communicating, compromising, and respecting differences. Learning these life skills may be the most valuable lessons you'll learn outside the classroom. As Jessica, a college sophomore, puts it, sharing a space can make you "a new and more open person, and you learn about yourself in the process."


Do you have to have a roommate in college?

No. You don’t have to have a college roommate. Many colleges and universities offer single rooms as an option, but they may come at a higher cost. However, sharing a room with a roommate will help save money on housing costs, and it can also be a perfect way to meet new people and make friends. Whether or not to have a roommate is a personal choice, depending on your individual preferences and circumstances.

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Is it good to have a roommate in college?

Having a roommate in college offers several benefits, such as making social connections, sharing housing costs, learning to live with others, having emotional support, and sharing experiences. You'll want to communicate with your roommate and establish clear boundaries to ensure a comfortable living space for everyone. Consider creating a college roommate boundaries list before someone moves into your dorm.

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What’s the definition of a roommate in college?

A roommate is a person who shares a living space, such as a dorm room or an apartment, with another student. These roommates typically share common areas, such as a bathroom, kitchen, and living room, and they split the cost of rent and utilities. Many colleges and universities require students to live on campus during their first year, and having a roommate is often part of the experience. Living with a roommate can help you learn essential skills like communication, compromise, and respect for others' boundaries.

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How do people find college roommates?

Some schools randomly assign roommates based on factors like gender and major while others allow students to choose their own roommates through online matching services, social media, or personal connections. Resident assistants or housing offices can also help match students with compatible roommates based on interests and preferences. Before meeting with students you might decide to live with, it's wise to prepare a list of questions to ask a potential roommate.

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How do you deal with a college roommate?

If you're having issues with a college roommate you find disruptive or intrusive, it can be helpful to create a boundaries list. This list should outline specific boundaries you expect your roommate to respect, such as noise levels during study hours or sharing personal items. Once you’ve created a boundaries list, you can sit down with your roommate and go over it together. Be clear and firm about your boundaries, but listen to your roommate's concerns.

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What to do if your roommate problem can’t be solved?

Ask a resident assistant or housing coordinator to request a room change if your college roommate problem can’t be resolved. Resolving conflicts may take time and effort, and you’ll want to approach the situation with an open mind and willingness to compromise. If the situation becomes unbearable despite your efforts, explore other options to ensure a safe and comfortable living environment.

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