Living with a Roommate
Updated: Nov 15
PHHS '18, American University '22
Congratulations on entering a new chapter in your life! College is going to be a rollercoaster of mixed emotions—leaving your high school friends, meeting strangers and exploring who you are is all part of this unique, worthwhile process. I’m going to be honest with you— grappling with the idea of living with someone is one the most frightening aspects of college, whether you are choosing a roommate or going random. However, you will never truly know whether you’ll be a good fit until college begins, regardless of how well you vibe and connect beforehand. With that said, it is important to ask those necessary questions, especially for those of you choosing a roommate.
Don’t settle. Find someone you are compatible with. Rather, think of it as speed dating, but for finding a qualified roommate. Know what you want out of it and don’t be afraid to ask these questions. Do you want your roommate as a friend, someone you can go out, share interests in, similar majors, or do you want someone who keeps to themselves and has a separate lifestyle? Consider your potential roommate’s schedule—do they sleep at a reasonable time, will they have friends over a lot, does he/she have a significant other? It is important to identify the non-negotiable aspects that you personally have. For instance, would you be able to live in a messy room? Don’t wait till the first day of college to establish agreed upon rules. Figure out if you are sharing items—microwave, refrigerator, clothes, supplies, etc.
Aside from these questions, this process of finding a potential roommate will introduce you to many people, so make the most out of it. You never know that these random Facebook profile pictures may end up being some of the best people in your lives. But also, be prepared that some people may be disappointed that you did not choose them in the end. Don’t be discouraged that you may be turned down as well. Just be honest with yourself and others while discussing your habits, likes and dislikes to find that potential roommate.
You are bound to have arguments with your roommate, but don’t take it too personally. Communicate with each other, address the problems, respect each other/each other’s items, and involve your RA if necessary. You should be open to unexpected change. Your roommate may not be your roommate for the four years of college.
For me, I was super excited to get to D.C., but I was also apprehensive to leave my old life behind. I’ve never shared a room with another person, and I knew about two people at American from Parsippany. After talking and getting to know a bunch of people from Facebook, I finally found a roommate who shared a similar lifestyle to mine. My roommate is from New Jersey and we actually met up a few times in Denville, discussed our living situation and got along really well. Although we grew up in similar areas, we learned so much from each other and our experiences. However, I won’t lie to you and say we were perfect roommates. Because we hardly knew many people right off the bat, we became very close friends and with that, we had problems. We would be constantly spending time together and would see each other almost 24 hours a day. We had a fair share of arguments, but as we grew and met new people, we became better people. We lived together for 2 years and have decided that we’re better off as friends. Told you that it’s like speed dating—all the attached emotions, questions and complications with dating applies here as well. Yet, the biggest takeaway from this story is good friends do not always make good roommates and good roommates do not always make good friends.
With that, my overall advice is don’t stay in your dorm for a long period and don’t have many expectations. There is no pressure to become friends with your roommate so don’t feel compelled to do so. Get out of your comfort zone, go for a walk around campus to meet new people because everyone is in the same boat. Everyone can use a new friend; everyone can learn from another person and not many people have it all together—even if it may seem so. However, this is both your spaces—decorate and make it feel like home.