It doesn't matter if she's your best friend from high school or a complete stranger, living with someone can get pretty rough. Sometimes your personalities don't mesh well: she's an early-bird and you're a night owl; you like to party and she just wants to study. It isn't long before you find yourself wondering if you'll survive the year without killing one another…
First of all, murder is not an option. The body, the blood, the police…it's just not worth all of the hassle. Anyway, jail time will probably get you kicked out of school so fast, your laptop will spin.
What is the best option to deal with your difficult roommate then? It all depends on how bad the situation is...
If your biggest complaint is that he leaves his wet towels on the floor, it may just take a few reminders (or a pile of his wet towels on his bed) to get the message across. If he doesn’t get the hint, you may need to just grin and bear it. It's only for one year, right? You can make it!
If she's playing her music too loudly while you're trying to study, then some compromises might be in order. Maybe you can study at the library until 10 if she promises to turn off the music (or put on headphones) one you come back.
If you have a long laundry list of little complaints, you might want to sit down with your roommate over pizza and discuss them. Don't attack them but rather approach it with the attitude of "we have a problem and I'd really appreciate your help in solving it." Don't be surprised if you get an earful too! If he's getting on your nerves, you’re probably getting on his so be ready to hear the worst.
Once you've both had a chance to clear the air, take a moment to make a list of basic rules that both of you are willing to follow. These rules should include schedules, phone use, noise, borrowing policies, neatness standards, guest, etc. Make sure to write these down and post in a common area so there are no question about what you two agreed upon.
If your issues with your dorm mate centers more around property disputes or invasion of privacy, you might need to just invest in a trunk that you can lock your valuables and private items in so they can't get to them. Also, the old "tape down the center of the room" could help you deal with any "division of space" issues you might be having.
Of course, If you two are having drag out, weekly fights in the dorm hallway, it might be time for the RA (residential advisor) to get involved. RA's are usually upper classmen or graduate students who trade their time for a free residence. They're there to make sure you don't kill one another, mediate issues, or ensure that the dorm area is safe for all.
When you do approach the RA for help, approach him or her with respect. Don't scream or yell – walk off your anger before you go storming into his room and start demanding stuff. Don't just come with complaints about your roommate – have a few suggestions for what you'd like to see done. More than likely, the RA will ask both you and your roommate to sit down, discuss your issues, and look for a compromise.
If the RA can't / won't get involved or your issues remain unresolved even after all of this, you might need to petition the housing department to be moved to another room. The housing department understands that not everyone will get along with one another but they will asks that you do your due dilligence and try to work it out before they go through the hassle of moving you.
So behave yourself, take the high road, work towards a compromise, and ask for help when needed and you too will survive that Roommate From Hell!
For other ideas and tips for living in the dorms, make sure to read my other article - 8 Ways to Make Dorm Life Easier - A Freshmen Primer for Living in the Dorms.