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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Main image courtesy of Study Breaks Magazine.

As your senior year comes to a close, it’s time to look to the future. If you’re planning to attend college in the fall, you’ve got a lot to look forward to. You’ll probably spend the summer planning out what to bring your first year, what your class schedule will look like, and who you’ll be living with at the start of the semester. Living with a roommate is probably something new to you, and you might feel a mix of excitement and uneasiness at the same time. And that’s completely okay! 

This is the first time you’ll be away from home, and you’re going to be in a totally new environment, so it’s normal to find yourself a little stressed. If you’re going to be living with a roommate or roommates your freshman year, it can’t hurt to go into this new situation knowing what to expect.

That’s why we thought it would be incredibly helpful to put together a list of the best roommate advice for college freshmen. That way, you’ll feel a little more prepared when you arrive on campus on move in day. In this article. we’re going to cover:

  • The essential roommate advice every college freshman needs to know
  • What to do if the worst case scenario happens and you don’t get along with your roommate

Essential roommate advice for college freshmen

8 tips for ensuring a smooth transition to roommate life your freshman year

group of college students studying
Getting to know your college roommate should be fun and exciting! Image courtesy of Encore Outpatient Services.

Every incoming college freshman worries at least a little about who their roommate will be. And depending on how your school assigns roommates, you may or may not have advance knowledge of who they are. Some schools allow college freshmen to choose their roommates through accepted student groups, while others randomly assign first year students based on housing questionnaires. Regardless of how your school handles who your roommate is, it’s up to you to handle how you interact and live with them. Luckily, we’ve come up with some of the best advice to make sure you have a (relatively) smooth transition to living with someone new. 

1. Start communication early (and keep it open)

As soon as you learn who you’re living with (or who you’ve been assigned to live with) try to start the conversation early. If you don’t know each other, introduce yourself through your preferred platform, either through text, social media, phone calls, emails, etc. This at least opens up the gates! You can start to get a feel for who they are and what kind of background they’re coming from. You may even want to consider asking them a few break the ice roommate questions to see what their personality is like. 

This would also be a good time to check in and see if they’ve already purchased some items for the dorm like a fridge, microwave, or coffee pot. You may also want to confirm with them whether or not they’d like to try and coordinate dorm decor or have complementary color schemes. If so you can always decide what colors you’d like to try out. This can be one of the first things you do together as roomies!

As you get to know your roommate a little more, you may discover you share some similar interests. Or, you may not have too much in common. Remember, your roommate does not have to be your best friend, and don’t put too much pressure on the relationship to be like that. If you two can get along living together and enjoy each other’s company, that is an amazing win—becoming good friends is just an extra bonus. 

rug for a dorm from OCM
Check with your future roommate and see what their ideas are for decorating your dorm room.

2. Set boundaries

Another important bit of advice to keep in mind as you start communicating with your roommate is to make sure you set up boundaries. This can be as simple as setting up a series of rules regarding sharing items like clothes, laundry detergent, food, or face wash. You can either choose to share items, or not. If you want certain things off limits, say so, and a respectful roommate will always adhere to those rules. Even if your roommate says they’re okay with you using their things, it’s always polite to ask permission before you do so just in case. 

You can also discuss personal space boundaries. This is important if your roommate has a significant other, or makes it known they’d like to have friends over. A great way to compromise on this is to set up certain times or days where this is okay, and other times when it’s not. You could also discuss letting each other know a few days in advance if other people are going to be in your dorm room so there are no surprises! 

3. Get to know your schedules and alarm times

Although it may not seem like a big deal at the time, it’s a good idea to get to know each other’s schedules. That way you’ll be prepared for when their alarm is going to go off. While an alarm sounds like something trivial that you’ll just get used to, don’t always be so sure. If you have opposite schedules and find that you are getting up at 8am when they want to sleep in, and vice versa, it can lead to sleep-deprived and irritated roommates.

You can post your schedules on the walls of your dorm until you get into a rhythm. That way you’ll know when they’re at class, and you have some free time to study or relax alone in your room. 

4. Find places to study

While studying in the room while your roommate is in class or at an activity is fine, you shouldn’t always count on that being your only study spot. Scope out other areas of campus and find one that is a good place for you to get work done. The library is always a solid option, as there is plenty of space and study cubicles for you to hunker down and hit the books. Plus, it’s usually open pretty early and closes later than a lot of campus buildings.

But don’t feel limited by just the library! There are lots of other common areas, lobbies, cafes, and other spots that are just as good. Find one that you really feel comfortable in and return to it often. 

college student using a lap desk
There are lots of other places to study besides your dorm room, just make sure to bring everything you need with you for a productive study session.

5. Discuss cleaning

Because you’ll be living together for the year, you’re eventually going to have to clean up your space. While it’s not exactly fun, cleaning your dorm room is a necessity. Before you start the semester, see if they’re interested in setting up a cleaning schedule, or if they’d like to split the cleaning supplies like a small vacuum, wipes, paper towels, broom, etc. You don’t have to force them to make their bed each day, but setting some rules about throwing trash out, not leaving dirty dishes laying around, and keeping tissues or other clutter out of the common space are all pretty essential.

6. Always try to be considerate 

This is good advice in general, but especially true if you’re living with someone new for the first time. Be considerate that you’re sharing your space, and try to follow the Golden Rule and treat your roommate like you would want to be treated. Respect their space and their items, and don’t just assume because you live together it will be okay to use their things. If you want to have people over, make sure to give them a heads up. Hopefully they’ll also do the same for you.

Being considerate also means that just because you live in the dorm with them, they’ll always want to talk, listen to your music, or hear your phone conversations. Go somewhere else to speak on the phone, wear headphones when you listen to music or watch a show, and be okay with allowing silence to exist without constant speaking. You’d be surprised how much more easily people can get along when each is considerate of the other.

7. Try to give each other space

This ties in with being considerate. Living with another person (or people) in a much smaller space will take some time to get used to. In the meantime, it’s important to allow each other to have some alone time. This is easier to do when your schedules are opposite, for example if their classes are in the morning, you’ll have the place to yourself for that amount of time. Likewise, if your classes are in the afternoon, they’ll grow accustomed to having that time in the room to themselves. 

However if your class schedules are very similar, you may want to work out another option so you’re not always getting annoyed at each other. No one wants to come home from class looking forward to quiet time in your room, only to find your roommate there with a study group. This can lead to simmering resentment. Set up a schedule of times when you would like to have some space to be alone in the room, and do the same for them. 

8. Speak up sooner rather than later

In case resentment or irritation do start to simmer, one of the best pieces of advice you can follow is to speak up about it sooner rather than later. Do not just assume your roommate knows their behavior is bothering you, and going the passive aggressive route here is just going to make things worse. If there is something that needs attention, speak to them directly. But do so in a calm and approachable manner. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your boundaries, but you want to do it in a respectful, and adult manner. Yelling at a roommate is not a good idea! You’ll both end up resenting each other even more.  

Worst case scenario: roommate advice if things aren’t working out

two roommates talking in their dorm
Most roommate quarrels can be worked out by having a productive conversation about it! Image courtesy of Southwestern Community College.

Try to discuss it

If you do find that your roommate is infringing on your boundaries, or is engaging in behavior that makes you uncomfortable, tell them. No matter how much you want to just “ride it out” or hope that it gets better and resolves itself, chances are it won’t. If you’re uncomfortable with confrontation, try sending a text asking them if you can speak with them, then bring whatever the issue is to their attention. Chances are they didn’t know it was bothering you and will change their behavior! 

Engage an RA if necessary 

If you’re not able to resolve the issue yourselves, you can always go to your resident advisor. They’re there to help with roommate disputes and can act as an impartial listener. They have training in these types of issues, and may provide a solution to your roommate problem. If not, they can always escalate the concern to the school’s housing authority if absolutely necessary.  

Remember, this is temporary

Most roommate disagreements are resolvable and temporary, after all, you’re only there until the academic year is over. In the meantime, living with someone certainly teaches you a little about yourself, what your likes and dislikes are, and how to stand up for yourself and live with another person. 

You’ll learn about yourself by the end of your freshman year, and grow in more ways than you think. While you don’t need to be best friends with your freshman year roommate, following these tips should help you have a pleasant experience.