How to Avoid Conflict With College Roommates

Be Flexible When Dealing with College Roommates - Alvimann

Sharing a dorm room at college with a total stranger can be a challenging experience to say the least. Living with friends can also be difficult.

Learning how to live with college roommates who aren't necessarily lovable is an important life lesson every student can learn. However, arguing with a roommate on a constant basis will create nothing except animosity and it's counterproductive. There are enough things to worry about in college, so in order to be successful it's vital to keep a few tips in mind when living with a roommate.

Make a Set of Rules Early With a New Roommate

When a roommate's contact information becomes available, contact him or her and set clear guidelines before moving in. An absence of communication could be interpreted by a roommate to mean that any kind of behavior is acceptable. If there are multiple roommates, gather them together and make a list of rules that are fair. Discuss how they can benefit everyone involved and post them on the wall so they're easy to see.

If the roommate is a friend it doesn't mean the rulebook has to be thrown out the window. Sit down together and establish some boundaries. It's better to start this process sooner rather than later. Even if this friend is known quite well, chances are both students haven't lived together for any length of time. Talk about food, chores, the use of personal items and appropriate levels of noise.

Be Friendly With a New Roommate

A good way to cultivate a hospitable relationship with a roommate is to ask questions about skills and hobbies. Maintaining open communication is the best way to know a person. Go beyond appearances, try to put shyness on the shelf and figure out what is interesting about a college roommate. People respond well when they feel that others are curious about them.

It's not necessary to be best friends in order to be successful roommates. In fact, it's probably better if this isn't the case. While they might be good study partners, it could be a disaster if one of them is neat and the other is a slob. Dorm rooms aren't big, and two individuals with radically conflicting domestic habits can make living together intolerable.

Voice any Concerns and Frustrations

Sorting out bothersome issues with a roommate is fine, as long as it's done in a constructive way. Never resort to accusations because all too often this will put somebody on the defensive. Honesty combined with tact can go a long way and if one roommate hears about another's problems upfront, it will be much easier for both parties to co-exist amicably.

With a friend things can be tricky. The individual could assume that because a friendship exists, it will be fine to push the envelope as far as it will go. Don't let annoyances simmer and boil but at the same time, know what battles to pick and which small things to keep quiet about. A roommate who quickly complains about every minor incident will be tuned out. The friend won't change for anyone, not even for a well known roommate.

Respect a Roommate's Opinions and Beliefs

Opposing schedules and studying with different groups of friends means that many roommates won't see that much of each other. But, when they do, discussions are bound to start. There's nothing wrong with expressing opinions, but keep them light and respect the views of others. Be particularly mindful of a roommate's religious and/or political beliefs. These subjects can spark arguments and things could turn malicious awfully fast.

Living with a roommate takes compromise, lots of patience and a sense of humor, but certain personalities don't mesh well in a small living space. If everything has been tried but the situation doesn't improve, speak to the RA (resident assistant) to get immediate assistance.


References:
Langolt, Alice. "Dealing with Difficult College Roommates."
Sposato, Amanda. "Top Ten Rules for Dual Living: How to Get Along with a Roommate."