How to: Choosing a college roommate doesn’t have to be stressful

The shift between high school life and college life comes with a plethora of changes. For some students, this may include moving out of their homes and into a dorm, and may include living in close quarters with a roommate. It can seem daunting to have to determine the qualities needed in a roommate to have a successful living situation so for anyone entering this journey, use these tips to aid your decision making:

Don’t room with a best friend

While it may seem like common sense to pick one of your closest friends to live with during your college years, it may not be the best idea. You undoubtedly want to pick someone you like, however sharing a room with someone is not the same as having a sleepover every night. There needs to be an understanding that each roommate has their own schedule and commitments, and cannot be completely committed to the emotional state of their living partner. While it is the job of a good friend to look after the emotional state of their best friend, it is not the job of a roommate to do so.

Best friends have a tendency to try to avoid conflict with each other in order to preserve their friendship. You need to be able to have open and honest conversation without being emotional in order to foster a positive living situation for both parties and ensure that neither person involves is contributing less than their fair share. Intense emotional ties to a best friend can hinder the capacity to do this effectively.

Utilize campus resources and be honest

Many colleges offer resources to aid in the search for a roommate, as they provide an online forum for incoming students to fill out surveys, meet new people, and ultimately find a roommate that you may be compatible with. Even if you have an idea of who you want to share a room with in college, it is still worth your time to check out these resources. Don’t eliminate opportunities before they present themselves.

That being said, make sure that you are honest with any questionnaires you may fill out regarding your living habits. If you are a messy person, don’t claim to be neat and tidy because you feel it looks more attractive on paper. Doing this will only prompt future conflicts, and it is best to go into any new relationship without a veil of dishonestly.

Ask difficult questions

Once you have a person to room with in mind, take the time to speak with them directly about their habits and preferences to ensure that you are both on the same page. Don’t shy away from the difficult questions, as those are often the topics that can cause larger issues. If you’re unsure what to ask, here are a few starter questions:

  • How late do you stay up?
  • How often do you host guests?
  • How loudly do you like to listen to music?
  • How often do you watch TV?
  • Do you have any health concerns?

Figure out what is expected of you

It is also important to figure out what they would expect from you as a roommate. It is up to you to not only be honest with others, but to also be honest with yourself to be able to determine how much you are able to compromise on personal issues. Having a successful roommate situation is dependent on the ability of both parties to be on the same page with expectations of each other, so you must be able to hold yourself accountable as well.

“[My roommate and I] decided on rules at the beginning of the year and stuck by them like sharing food and clothes and things like that,” Class of 2018 alumni and current Ohio University student Isabella Daley said. I think it mostly worked because we would tell each other any concerns we had as we went along and then we addressed them. Instead of ignoring problems we just talked about everything and worked it all out.”

roommates 2

McNick graduates Lauren Steinkühl and Isabella Daley Class of 2018 shared a dorm freshman year. “We were both very flexible; We decided on the rules at the beginning of the year and stuck by them,” Daley.


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