What You Need to Know about College Roommates
By Sam, age 18, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Congratulations! You've finally finished with that terror known as high school, and now you're off to explore the big bad world of college. And while you may already be blindsided by the freedom of living on your own for the first time, you must not forget the one thing that stands in your way: the dreaded roomie!
Everyone has a different story. There are roommates entering your college straight from hell, whose only joy in life is to see you suffer, while others begin beautiful friendships lasting until the both of you are as old as dirt. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. This article is about my experience living in a freshman dorm with my roommate and suitemates, and how I survived my first year at college.
As college roommate selection goes, each college has its own way of pairing up its bright eyed, bushy tailed freshmen. My college was gracious enough to supply a roommate questionnaire. On it were questions about my sleeping habits, what I liked to do, and how I liked to study. If your college supplies you with such a questionnaire, take the time to answer it honestly and in as much detail as possible. The more information you put on the sheet, the greater of an opportunity the school has of finding someone compatible with you. If your school doesn't offer a questionnaire, and instead uses pure randomization to organize its student housing, good luck. Hopefully their selection won't be too terrible.
Getting in touch with your roommate before you get to school is very important. It is also very easy, with email, instant messaging, and social networking websites, like Facebook and Twitter. Communicating with your roommate beforehand allows you the chance to ask questions about each other. This way you can get an accurate estimate of how your daily habits will interact with theirs. This communication also allows an opportunity to discuss the idea of sharing appliances. In my experience, I found it was easier to share the more expensive appliances, like microwaves, refrigerators, and televisions, rather than each roommate having their own. It not only decreases the total amount of money each roommate has to spend, but it also takes up much less space (and believe me when I say space is very valuable in a college dorm).
As I've said before, every interaction with a college roommate is different. Luckily enough, I had a great roommate. We got along very well. We each had our own habits. I liked to get up early, while she liked staying up later, but we were able to be considerate of each other. The main thing that usually drives roommates crazy is the different times each roommate wants to study and sleep. While one girl may prefer to do her homework just before bed, her roommate may decide to finish her homework right after class so she can stay up late hanging out with friends. If the second girl brings friends to the room and makes a ruckus while the first girl is trying to study, tempers will flare. It's better to understand that you and your roommate do certain things specific ways, and both try to work around each other so you don't end up stepping on each other's toes. When I wanted to go to bed, for example, my roommate was gracious enough to turn off the room's main light and use a small lamp instead. Then, when I got up the next morning and she was still asleep, I would either be very quiet in the room or go into the common room to not disturb her.
My roommate also lived about an hour away from campus, so I usually had the room to myself when she went home for the weekend. Having "me" time is very important in a college dorm. You can love your roommate, but still get sick of them every now and then. One of my friends, for example, lofted her bed and put a sheet across it to create a "cave" under her bed. This is where she went if she wanted to quietly do homework or watch a movie by herself.
If you find you truly cannot stand your roommate, I have two suggestions for you. The first is to try and organize a switch. Some colleges will allow you to change rooms if you fill out a form in the Student Housing office. However, it's important to remember that if you want to switch rooms you need to find an available room to switch into.
The second is to ignore your roommate. I know this seems juvenile, but I've seen it work. One of my friends who lived in another dorm found out she had nothing in common with her roommate, so she would generally stay in our suite. She did her homework in our common room, participated in our "suite activities" (like board game night), and even did her laundry in the basement of our dorm. The two girls in the room next to mine also did not get along very well. As such, neither of them spent a lot of time in the room if the other was there. Overall, ignoring your roommate is better than clashing with them and causing a scene. This way you'll be able to respectfully understand your differences without absolutely despising each other.