Incoming students, your first year of college is just months away! And like many freshmen, you may be about to experience the most frustrating part of adjusting to school: living with a total stranger in a tiny dorm room. However, with a good attitude, life with a roommate doesn’t need to be painful. And the first thing you can do is establish a good relationship with your roommate over the summer before school starts.
As soon as you get information about your new roommate, make contact. Back in the “old days” when I went to college (1988), that meant a phone call. Of course, today there’s email. And if you’re both on Facebook or MySpace, add each other for sure. Getting to know each other a little bit now will make the transition easier, and you can use cyberspace to do this easily.
When meeting your roommate, keep an open mind. When I first called my roommate, I felt like she was looking for things not to like about me. Don’t do this. You certainly don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, or even friends at all—but you will have a much easier time if the two of you are friendly to and respectful of each other. So assume the best about your roommate, especially at first.
Once you get to know each other a little, summer is a good time to talk about expectations you have about the room, or even to draw up a roommate contract. Compromise is important, but it’s also important that you let each other know what you expect. For example, if one of you isn’t cool with overnight visits from the opposite sex, get that out in the open now before it becomes a problem. If cleanliness is very important to you, let that be known.
On a more practical note, summer is a good time to discuss things you’re going to bring to the room. One of you might choose to bring the fridge, and other the rug. You can also discuss color schemes to make sure things don’t horribly clash.
If you can, meet your roommate in person. This will make the first day in the dorm a whole lot less weird. If you live close to one another, get together for coffee or lunch. If you’re a long drive away from each other, consider getting together for lunch on campus, or invite your roommate over to your home.
Spend some time getting to know your roommate over the summer. Remember, freshman year is stressful, and the time you take to establish a comfortable relationship with your roommate can make things much easier.