Things to Know Before Choosing a College Roommate

Things to Know Before Choosing a College Roommate

Choosing a college roommate is an important decision that can significantly impact your college experience. It's more than just sharing a space; it's about coexisting harmoniously in a small environment, often under stressful conditions. Here are some crucial things to consider before deciding who you will live with during your college years.

1. Communicate Thoroughly Before Moving In

It’s vital to have in-depth conversations with potential roommates before making a decision. While casual chats over social media can provide some insights, they often don’t reveal the full picture. Discuss lifestyles, habits, and preferences openly to gauge compatibility. Consider all aspects of living together, from sleep schedules to how you handle stress and personal emotions.

2. Set Clear Expectations Early

Once you choose a roommate, set clear expectations about cleanliness, noise levels, and sleep schedules. These discussions can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts later on. It's crucial to establish rules about when to be quiet, how clean the room should be, and other living arrangements from the start.

3. Privacy and Personal Space

Understand that living together doesn't mean you lose your right to privacy. Discuss and respect each other’s need for personal space. For example, decide on changing boundaries and if and how you should share personal items. Consider orienting your beds and desks to avoid facing each other directly, which can help in maintaining a sense of individual space.

4. Dealing with Communal Living Challenges

If you're in a dorm with communal bathrooms, bring essentials like a shower caddy. Agree on using separate trash cans to reduce disagreements and decide whether you'll have a chore schedule. Investing in quality noise-canceling headphones, a sleeping mask, and earplugs can also help you maintain your own space and comfort within a shared environment.

5. Watch for Red Flags

Pay attention to any red flags during your initial conversations. If something feels off, it’s probably a sign that the living situation might not be ideal. Trust your instincts—if you foresee potential conflicts based on your early interactions, consider looking for a different roommate before it’s too late.

6. Friendship is Not Guaranteed

Remember, living together does not automatically mean you will be friends. While you can develop a friendship over time, it should not be forced. If you do become friends, make sure the time spent together is intentional and enjoyable, not just a product of convenience.

7. Plan for Alone Time

In college, 'alone time' can become a rare commodity, especially when sharing a room. Be aware that every night you go to sleep, you'll likely be in the company of another person. There will be times when you might want to cry, relax, or simply be alone—communicate these needs openly with your roommate.

8. Be Prepared for Change

No matter how well you get along initially, people change, especially in the transformative college years. Be prepared to adapt your roommate agreement as both of you grow and your needs evolve.


Choosing the right college roommate involves more than just finding someone with a compatible sleep schedule. It’s about mutual respect, communication, and a willingness to make compromises. By setting clear expectations and maintaining open lines of communication, you can create a living environment that supports both your academic success and personal well-being.

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