For many, the transition from high school to college is a major milestone in life. A large part of what makes this era so developmental is moving away from the familiarity of your home and family and living with new people for the first time.
This abrupt change can not only be physically difficult to adjust to, but also emotionally and mentally overwhelming. Learning a new set of social rules and boundaries, adapting to an unfamiliar person and their habits and having the courage to openly communicate your thoughts is a process often overlooked when discussing the typical challenges of college.
Here is a compiled list of important considerations for having roommates for the first time.
The last thing anyone wants is to return to the dorm or apartment after a long day of classes and homework and be uncomfortable around the very people one has to live with. Having an amicable relationship with roommates is a key factor in your energy, time and many other important aspects of college life.
Take the time to find people who have similar expectations and lifestyles. This may not always be your closest friend. Keep an open mind, and take advantage of the new college environment where one can meet people with diverse interests and backgrounds. Talk to people in your extracurriculars or classes who share common interests.
There are many opportunities to meet people online or over social media as well. Tech provides a roommate finder on the housing portal for first-year students, so you can easily reach out and connect to people who you feel fit your lifestyle and habits.
It is equally important to keep in mind that people have various lifestyles and habits, which may differ from your own. Give people the appropriate time and space that they might need, especially with the difficulties that come with schoolwork, living in a new place and finding the ideal social outlet.
It can never hurt to ask questions. Making assumptions about someone or something may lead to misunderstandings and issues later. Having a shared space may take time to get accustomed to, so be mindful and respectful of the other person’s routine and expectations to ensure an optimal living space for all. Establish your boundaries early on, and clarify if you have concerns.
As it goes with any relationship, communication really is key. Problems with roommates often arise from issues and frustrations that each person has held in for a long time, which suddenly blow out of proportion. To avoid larger arguments, address problems directly as they happen. This can be difficult because many people tend to be non-confrontational, especially if the roommate relationship is not as close. One might think something or someone will change with time without having to address the problem directly. As resentment and frustrations build up, the initially little issues can become more significant.
Communicating in a direct but polite way as soon as possible is the ideal way to avoid these types of arguments. Most people will be more than happy to find common ground, and this opens up the opportunity for them to also discuss their thoughts openly and without the fear of judgment or reproach.
Think of the basics. As you start to live away from the authority of your parents for the first time, it is important to take the initiative and responsibility for chores in and around the living area.
Doing your own dishes, taking out the trash and cleaning up after yourself are the basic etiquette rules you should complete on your own time.
Be mindful of communal spaces in order to not burden your other roommates with additional chores; establishing a schedule or routine early on may be helpful. If confronted with a complaint or disagreement about chores, decide on a compromise and equitable solution. After all, a clean and safe living space serves as a benefit to everyone. This is the time to learn more about responsibilities that will help you throughout the rest of your life as well.
Roommate relationships vary greatly from dorm to dorm and person to person, but it shouldn’t hinder your college experience. That is why it is crucial to establish yourself early on and be open and aware; after all, everyone is going through this experience for the first time.
At the end of the day, coming back from campus to your new home where you feel comfortable and respected is the most important thing.