Learning to Live With Roommates…
I’ll never forget my first visit to Preview with my elder daughter. The UF advisor leading one session asked for a show of hands from a ballroom full of students, wanting to see who had never shared a bedroom before. The sea of raised hands was deep enough for dolphins to frolic in. And these were the students heading to an immersion of shared life with roommates in mere weeks!
This is not the only big lifestyle change facing new Gators. For many of these college-bound students, this may be their first time away from home for an extended period of time. Dorm living can be an enriching and wonderful part of the college experience. But it can also be a source of great stress and discomfort if the roommates are not a good fit, for whatever reason.
So, who’s perfect?
It’s not really about a perfect match. Prior to starting summer B, my daughter had searched diligently for a fall roommate through Facebook. She did not want to live her entire first year with a friend, preferring to meet new people and explore that part of the college experience. (Besides, it’s a handy safety valve to have a friend to visit when you want to escape the confines of your own dorm room…for whatever reason.) Just when she thought she had found a good “match,” their in-person meeting really clarified that they had pretty different expectations of a roommate. This left my daughter without a roommate just one week before making her dorm room selection.
Fortunately, a friend virtually introduced her to another girl who had not yet found a roommate and they decided to live together. While very different, they got along well and learned to comfortably co-exist in a small living space. They are still friends three years later — not a perfect match but a great fit.
Roomie Skills 101
Teach your student before leaving home what it means to be a good roommate. That way, when students go looking for roomies, they understand what is expected of themselves as well as what they can expect of a roommate. This information is a good foundation as they seek roommates through various roommate finder pages (eg. Facebook, roomsurf.com, etc.). And, it goes without saying that matching with a roommate in advance doesn’t mean that all will go swimmingly. (Remember what I said earlier about an occasional escape hatch?) They should, however, learn to respect others and share in a way they have never had to before.
When problems arise, they’re often as simple as someone constantly leaving dishes in the sink or trash piling up instead of being emptied. But even the more complicated issues, like a roommate regularly having overnight guests, should still be faced with the same first step: a calm discussion and an effort to compromise. If the roommates haven’t already set ground rules for things like when they are going to clean, how they feel about late hours, and when (or if) there is quiet time for study in the room, etc., encourage them to do so. Definitely tell them not to borrow clothes or eat their roommate’s food without asking! With our kids spending so much time texting instead of talking, it’s important that they learn how to express themselves clearly to their roommates.
If the issue cannot first be resolved between the roommates, their RA is the next resource to tap if your student lives in the dorm.
Pass on these great tips, tell your friends and like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Find out more about how to use HaveUHeard as a great resource. Sign up for other great tips at haveuheard.com.