The Freshmen Guide to Rooming: Dos and Don’ts

Moving into a dorm can be both exciting and challenging. For many, it’s the first time they’ve shared a room with another person. It’s important for students to learn how to interact well with others, namely their roommates. It may be easy to figure out how to “deal” with a roommate, but it’s also easy to mess things up with the person you’re living with for a semester or more. Other than interviewing potential roomies to see how they lead their lives, there’s no formula for finding the perfect roommate. As a student who both commuted and lived on campus with his best friend, I’ll tell you how things really are. There are a few things you need to know about yourself (and how you may be unintentionally creating drama) before you can become best friends with your first ever college roommate. Below are some guidelines to help your first roommate experience go smoothly.

•Respect boundaries. Whether you’re rooming with your best friend or a complete stranger, it’s up to the two of you to learn each other’s boundaries and respect them. The concept is relatively straightforward: know your rules and what you expect of others, which should not greatly differ from what you expect of yourself. If you really do follow a policy of respect, you may end up helping each other out, which is important in a place like Tech.

•Save the drama for the stage. Even if it’s unintentional, you may be creating drama in your living situation. Choose your battles wisely and keep things simple.

•To thine own self be true. Know what you want to do for the upcoming semester or year. Learn which clubs you want to join by the end of your first semester, or know what club you want to create. Don’t waste time, because that can go a long way with friendships. Also, joining a similar club as your roommate might prove useful in creating a relationship between you two.

•Realize when it’s not meant to be. Sometimes you just might not be meant for someone else. While this may sound like romantic matchmaking advice, it’s really about how to understand and deal with a situation. You and your roommate may be polar opposites: clean and messy, easy-going and obsessive, or even Republican and Democrat. Stereotypical rivalries aside, remember that you might not be best friends, but you can be fantastic roommates if you give each other space. It’s annoying to go through housing to find another roommate, who could turn out to be an even bigger jerk and less forgiving than the last.

•Be realistic. Dealing with a roommate can be anything from a small chore to nothing less than a science. If by a stroke of luck you instantly get along with your roommate on a personal level, you should nonetheless stifle the expectation to find a best friend or soul mate out of GT Housing. What you can expect is someone who will help you when help is needed. It’s important to remember that respect is the key to any successful relationship, and if one year doesn’t work out, then respectfully declining to live with the same person afterward is an option. Though your roommate may share the same cramped room as you, he or she does not have to share your life or personal endeavors.

•Go Greek (or maybe not…) Joining the same fraternity or sorority as your roommate can be a healthy start towards friendship. However, it can just as easily split the two of you apart. If you go Greek, be mindful of the fact that not everyone (i.e., your roommate) has the same priorities for their social life. Oppositely, if you remain independent while your roommate goes Greek, don’t judge them. Everyone deserves respect, for whatever they do, so don’t look down upon people for the way they choose to experience college. Respect is a crucial tool for a good year with a roommate at Tech.

•Reconsider rooming with your friends. Ever heard of the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”? It’s not entirely uncommon for some roommates to go entire weeks without talking to one another despitie sharing living quarters, and t hat gets pretty awkward. It’s easy to let yourself get cramped by a friend, or to push the other person’s boundaries too far.

A note to those rooming with their best friends: do not tread heavily in personal matters. You might be roommates, but you probably aren’t fully aware of what the other expects. Living with your best friend is not an automatic exemption from respecting them as a roommate. Besides, most people have never lived long-term with their best friends, so they are bound not to know the other’s most private habits.