College can present you with some of the best, most enjoyable and productive (or non-productive) years of your life. As if learning your way around campus wasn't difficult enough, for the new college or university student there are many decisions that could be or should be made that could inevitably affect the way you experience your time in college. While your choice of a college roommate may be actually 'assigned' to you, rather than a pressing decision you have to make, you can make clear and intentional decisions with regards to how you approach your roommate.
Even though many new college freshmen may have difficulty not relying significantly on their parents to help guide them through many initial college decisions, timidness and shyness can lead to a very unhealthy relationship with your roommate. Be assertive and detail exactly what you expect from your relationship and living arrangements. Laying down these ground rules, early on, can be beneficial for all involved.
Things You Will NeedBefore arriving at your college or university, be sure to get to know your roommate through a simple phone call or two. Doing this will allow you to at least become familiar with the person who you will be roommates with, and careful listening skills can reveal certain negative attributes that you may want to be attuned to at least in the initial stages of your relationship. The tone in your roommate's voice, or their expressed level of excitement, may be an indicator of just how open they really are to a new experience and making new friends. While a somewhat motivated roommate, who takes the initiative to offer suggestions and ideas, is ideal, it may not always be a reality in college.
When you make your initial phone calls, take that time to really get to know your roommate, show interest and excitement, and even formulate a game plan for who will bring what items to help make living conditions much more manageable. As an example, rather than two roommates, bringing two microwaves, without prior coordination, a simple phone call can help to delineate which items or products should be brought by which roommate. With some colleges only offering very little living space to roommates, other items to consider bringing are perhaps a computer desktop or laptop, a lamp or some kind of lighting source, an ironing board and iron, and a microwave. Take the initiative to see if your roommate would be willing to share in the use of any items, and which ones.
Step 1While getting familiar with your roommate's voice, prior to meeting, is imperative, you can also friend them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter. Without going overboard as a stalker, if you begin to form a solid foundation for your relationship, doing this will at least allow you to see pictures of them. Roommates will come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, so it is important that you do your best to become as familiar as you can with the person you will be living with prior to actually meeting them.
Step 2While no one should intentionally allow themselves to be walked over, simply being kind, caring, and offering to go the extra mile can immediately show your roommate that you have both your best interests at heart. Rather than let your roommate take all the initiative, offer to help them whenever opportunities arise. The law of reciprocity is alive and well, and would indicate that, if you go out of your way to repeatedly help someone else, they will typically return the favor sometime. If you continue to help out and offer of yourself consistently, with pure intentions, your roommate will see these things and, according to the law of reciprocity, will help you in your time of need.
Step 3Forming a great solid relationship with your roommate is important. Even still, you shouldn't become solely reliant upon just one person. When you arrive at college, do your best to get to know others, especially those who live within close proximity to yourself. Whether you live in a university hall or an apartment, there will be plenty of people who live near you that, with any kind of effort and good intentions, can become reliable friends, as well. It may very well be possible that your roommate and your personalities clash. Just so long as their isn't significant disdain or animosity between you both, it's completely fine for you both to not share the same interest. Being flexible, and attempting to learn to like some of the things your roommate likes, can be very beneficial to both your relationships.
Step 4While in your pre-visit calls, or while you actually meet, be sure to discuss and determine how your room will look. Since you will both be sharing living quarters, your roommate may have a preference for where some item should be located. Unless you have strong reason for a particular item to be placed somewhere, be open to your roommate's suggestions and be willing to put your foot down and give your honest, yet tactful, opinion regarding their ideas. Honesty can only serve to help better the relationship between you both, and it will make for a much enjoyable and predictable college time away from home. In a situation where uncertainty and confusion can reign supreme, any hint of predictability that can be added to the mix should certainly be embraced open heartedly.
Step 5With limited space, the visitations of boyfriends and girlfriends may very well become an issue. If you are both single, then this shouldn't be an issue, however, boyfriends and girlfriends attached may require one or the other roommate to bend a bit with accommodating them. Instead of just surprising your roommate with visitations, be sure to be clear about when and for how long they will be visiting. You should be clear enough to expect the same from your roommate, as well. They should respect you enough to abide by this simple requirement.
Step 6Just like the renown phrase "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...", so also should a degree of confidentiality concerning roommate matters be exercised throughout your time together. Instead of confiding in other people regarding issues with your roommate, be sure to be upfront with them about lingering issues or pet peeves that you have. Acting in accordance with confidentiality will serve as a great and beneficial arrangement for all parties involved.
If done in the right way, living with a college roommate doesn't have to be a painful experience. While each roommate will certainly bring their own unique personalities to the table, generally many roommates, as the beginning of college nears, will embrace it with a degree of excitement. While their may be some expected shyness and anxiety revolving around just how 'new' the situation is, oftentimes the development of relationships will begin to reveal the true character and intentions of each other. Do your best to help each other out, work as a team, and don't make rash judgments or pre-assumptions about your college roommate.