How to manage shared living space.
For many students entering college, this may be their first time away from home for an extended period of time. While dorm living can be an enriching and wonderful part of the college experience, it can also be a source of great stress and discomfort if the roommates are not a good match. Granted, the fit does not have to be perfect; as a matter of fact, my kids all did well with random roommates as opposed to handpicked ones. We had previously set a precedence that they couldn’t live with friends from home for the first year because we wanted them to meet new people; all part of the college experience. Students do, however, need to be able to comfortably and safely co-exist in their shared living space.
Teach your student before leaving home what it means to be a good roommate. Students can often find roommates through various roommate finder pages (ie: Facebook). UCF has made this easy by partnering with roomsurf.com. Of course, matching with a roommate in advance doesn’t mean that all will go perfectly. They learn to respect others and share in a way they have never had to before.
Should problems arise, whether they are as simple as someone constantly leaving dishes in the sink or more complicated like a roommate constantly having overnight guests, the first step should always be to have a calm discussion and look to compromise. If they haven’t already set ground rules for things like when they are going to clean, how they feel about late hours or studying in the room, encourage them to do so. And definitely, tell them not borrow clothes or eat their roommate’s food without asking! Our kids spend so much time texting instead of talking; it is important that they learn how to express themselves clearly to their roommates.
When your student lives in the dorm, the RA is a good resource to go to if the issue cannot first be resolved between the roommates. Consider asking, if all else fails, if they know of anyone else in the same spot and perhaps a roommate swap may be a good alternative for everyone involved; don’t try this without asking first.
Here is a guide to living on campus at UCF.
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