The thought of college can be scary and the concept of living with a complete stranger might be even scarier. If you’re like me, college will be your first time living on your own, away from your family and friends. Even if you’re ready to embark on this new adventure and excited for independence and new experiences like I was, you might still be nervous about living so closely with a roommate who is, at this point, a complete stranger. In my experience this anticipation and uncertainty was the scariest part of preparing for college, and that is perfectly normal! However, it is important to keep in mind that your future roommate is probably experiencing many of the same feelings, and wants this to work as much as you do.
Here are some tips to help the transition go smoothly and connect with your new roommate:
Reach Out as Early as Possible
Whether you were assigned a roommate by the college or you connected in another way and made the decision mutually, it is always a good idea to reach out and begin forming a relationship with your new roommate before arriving on campus. Some good conversation points are general daily and bedtime routines, preferences related to noise levels in the room (i.e. music and TV), and thoughts about inviting other people to hang out in your room. Establishing a basic idea of what to expect and your similarities/differences is a good way to ease some of that anxiety!
Discuss What You're Bringing
Once you’ve connected with your roommate and started to get to know each other, you might want to discuss what items you will be bringing to college. You will only need one refrigerator or rug, for example, so decide who will bring each item. Some roommates like to coordinate color schemes and some stick to their own style on each side of the room. As long as you are both in agreement, do whatever works for you! Talking about how much you might be willing to share items such as a coffee pot, Keurig, water pitcher, lamps, fans, etc. is also beneficial, so you know exactly what you should bring and can avoid ending up with too much clutter.
Always Ask First
Anytime you might have any doubt or uncertainty, just ask! My roommate and I are pretty open with each other and generally don’t mind if the other person uses something of ours or invites people over to the room. That being said, the easiest way to avoid any conflict is by simply double checking that they are okay with something before doing it.
Give Yourself Space
Even if you and your roommate get along very well and enjoy spending time together, everybody still needs some personal space and time for themselves. Making sure that both of you have alone time and even times where you are the only one in the room can really help. Getting out in the college community, joining different clubs, and attending events separately is a great way to give yourself a break and avoid getting annoyed with each other.
So You’ve Formed a Good Relationship, Now What Should You Expect?
Once you’ve formed a connection with your roommate and started to get into the routine of college life, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
It's Okay to Not Be Best Friends
It is important that you and your roommate get along and have a good relationship with each other. That being said, your roommate might not be your best friend—and that is perfectly fine. Maybe your first roommate will be your best friend and you will stay in touch long past college. Or maybe you will live together for a year and never speak again. Both scenarios are normal and totally okay! Try not to set unrealistic expectations for your relationship with your roommate, and let it unfold naturally.
Communication is Key
Although it can sometimes be challenging, it’s imperative that you and your roommate establish open communication to make sure that everyone’s needs are met and you can resolve any issues as they arise. Throughout the whole process, getting to know each other, starting to live together, and every step along the road can go smoothly as long as you communicate consistently and openly.
Trust the Process
Remember, every incoming college student is experiencing the same anxiety and anticipation about meeting and living with their new roommate. There are safeguards and resources in place to help each student’s transition to college life be as enjoyable and smooth as possible. When new concerns or anxieties arise, find someone to talk to.
Before arriving on campus this may be an admissions counselor or a trusted adult in your life. On campus a good contact would be a resident assistant, hall director, or academic advisor. Either way, everyone is rooting for your success, comfort, and growth. Try to enjoy the process, and have fun connecting with new people as you embark on this exciting adventure!