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Freshman Roommate Experience

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Maggie Lalo

PHHS ’19, Villanova University ‘23

Congratulations! You’ve decided which school you’ll be attending, so you joined the Class of 2024 Facebook group for your school, followed everyone from that page on Instagram, and maybe added a few on Snapchat. Now, it’s time to find a roommate. You start reading “About me” posts on Facebook to look for potential roommates, but there are so many nice and cool people to choose from, how could you pick just one? You think, “Maybe I should just go random.”

Whether you decide to pick a roommate or go random, the most important thing is that you are HONEST. Be honest to everyone, including yourself, about your likes/dislikes, living habits and studying habits. For example, you may be used to waking up at 7am because that’s what you did in high school, but ask yourself: are you really going to wake up that early in college, even though your class isn’t until 9? You don’t have to post your living and studying habits on the Facebook page, but when you talk to someone about being potential roommates, be sure to discuss those things. You will be living with each other for a while, and you don’t want any surprises during the first night on campus. If you do have any conflicts with your roommate, you can always talk to your RA (resident assistant), who is trained to mediate roommate conflicts and just listen to any concerns you and other residents may have.

Within the first few weeks of moving in, I met with my roommate and RA to discuss “rules” that my roommate and I would agree to follow while we were living together. I went random, so this was really the first time I talked to my roommate about living and studying habits. Here are some of things we talked about and what you should talk about with your roommate:

  • Cleaning responsibilities: who will be mopping/sweeping/vacuuming and when; wiping mirrors and sink (if you have one in your room); expectations of how clean the room should be/boundaries (ie keeping your mess to your side of the room)

  • Having visitors: who can sleep over and who can’t (family, friends from home, boy/girlfriends etc); how long visitors can stay

  • Study habits: What time of day will you be working? How late will you stay up studying? Will you be doing most of your homework/studying in the room? Do you listen to music while studying, or do you like it quiet?

  • Sleeping habits: What time do you usually sleep? When do you wake up? Do you use alarms? Are you light or heavy sleeper? Do lights bother you while sleeping? Snoring, sleep talking, getting up during the night?

  • Sharing things: minifridge, microwave, coffeemaker, vacuum etc; Should you ask before using each other’s things? (For me: YES. Always.)

The RLA (Roommate Living Agreement) meeting is the most important time to be honest about expectations from yourself and your roommate when it comes to sharing your dorm room, so when you go to your RA about any issues, they also know what you both agreed to. Make sure you are honest and explicit about your expectations and also keep your word (no one likes a hypocrite). If you do change your mind about something, make sure you tell your roommate.

From movies and hearing other college experiences, sometimes it seems like you’re expected to be best friends with your roommate. As I mentioned earlier, I went random and my roommate and I are not friends. We talked to each other and were nice, but we didn’t hang out together. We’re also just very different people with different friends and interests. Honestly, I appreciated our acquaintance relationship because it was easier for both of us to be alone from our friends while still being in the same room. Sometimes we struggled to talk to each other, but whenever something really bothered us, or if we wanted the room to hang out with friends, we were able to communicate effectively.

There’s no pressure to be friends with your roommate, but you should be able to talk to each other. If it’s really not working out, talk to your roommate and the RA to see if it’s possible to request a room change. Your dorm room should be one of the first places on campus where you can really be comfortable to be yourself. Also, keep in mind that the dorm room is just as much yours as it is your roommate’s. Whether you become best friends with your roommate or not, you’ll still finish freshman year with some memorable stories.

One last thing I want to mention, just remember to always be yourself and be open and accepting to meeting new people, especially the people in your residence hall because they will most likely be the ones you see and hang out with the most during your first year. Even if you feel like you don’t know who you are yet, try new things and do what you believe you should do.

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