By David Gutierrez
College is stressful enough on its own. The last thing you need is a noisy, disruptive, or rude roommate interfering with your ability to study—and don’t forget, you might be that roommate to someone else if you aren’t considerate with your behaviors. There are many benefits to having college roommates—which is one reason why so many universities make roommates mandatory for college freshman—and fortunately, the downsides can be managed easily if you have the right system in place.
Strategies for Better Relationships
These strategies can help you start and grow better roommate relationships overall:
- Seek off-campus or alternative housing. There’s (usually) nothing mandating that you stay in a college dorm. Dorms tend to be cramped, which can make strenuous living situations even more strenuous, and there are hundreds to thousands of students living in the same complex. Consider seeking alternative, off-campus housing with your chosen roommates; not only will you get more space, you’ll also have more control over who you end up paired with. Plus, if you’re an older college student with some extra capital, you can use an option like rent-to-own, or even buy a house outright to make money back on your investment.
- Establish quiet hours. Once you and your roommate are settled in, it’s essential to designate “quiet hours,” during which no excessive noise is permitted in the dorm—that means no company, no loud music, and no other major disruptions. This period allows everyone a guaranteed time to sleep, study, or enjoy themselves quietly without issue. How you set quiet hours depends on you and your roommates’ needs; though most quiet hours run through the night, you may have an alternative arrangement, or you may need more or fewer “quiet hours” than others.
- Study together when possible. You have a roommate, so why not make the most of the situation? Chances are, you’ll have at least one or two classes together, and even if you don’t, you can study together anyway. Take some time at least once a week to help each other prepare for an exam or recap a lesson; not only will you learn more, you’ll establish a closer bond, which can help you resolve problems faster when they come up in the future.
- Set mutually agreeable rules for cleaning and inviting people over. It’s best to set rules proactively when it comes to how you take care of your shared space. There are many different ways to handle it, but you must come to an agreement. For example, if you’re both neat freaks, you can take turns cleaning every other day. If both of you hate cleaning, you can use a game or challenge to draw for cleaning duty randomly. Plus, you’ll want to establish ground rules for who can be in your dorm and when—and the earlier you have this conversation, the better.
- Speak openly about your concerns and needs. Finally, try to be as open as possible when discussing things with your roommate. If they break a rule, address it right away. If you’re concerned about their behavior, mention it. If you have a request, bring it up. As long as you do so politely and consistently, you’ll open the door to conversation and, eventually, a resolution.
What to Do With a Disagreeable Roommate
In some cases, no matter how hard you try to set agreeable rules, politely talk about your concerns, and strive for the best possible environment, your roommate won’t hold up their end of the bargain. If you’re stuck with a roommate who refuses to follow the rules (or help to set new ones) and disrupts your ability to study or academically function, you need to take action. File a complaint with the university asking for a new roommate, or work with your landlord to get them off the lease.
Roommates are, for the most part, a pleasure to have around—even if you don’t see eye to eye right away. The more open you both are to creating the best possible living conditions, the more successful and satisfied you’re all going to be.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.