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Roommates and the College Experience

By Stephanie Wicburg

[4 minute read]

Coming to a new place and figuring out how to survive classes is a challenge that all incoming college students face. It involves having to adjust to different teaching styles and the various contents of whatever classes you sign up for. You might also have to get over a couple of months of not using your brain nearly as much because you were on summer break. Classes can be hard, but they are something we’re all used to. Even if the environment is new, school is something familiar to all of us. Living in a new place, however, and learning how to coexist with people other than your family is a wholly different challenge.

Photo by Joyful on Unsplash

Roommates in college can either be a great adjustment or a significant challenge. If you’re not used to living with people outside of your family or you are accustomed to living by yourself (which is true for most people), there might be a few moments of rude awakening for everyone involved as people figure out how to be functional individuals in an environment with more than one person.

Many people find lifelong friends in the people they end up being roommates with. I have personally heard wonderful stories about people who get randomly assigned to roommates. Those people didn’t know anyone that they might want to room with and ended up forming extremely strong bonds with their roommate. In some cases, roommates can coexist without bonding or disliking each other, and in some other cases, roommate pairs end up with stress and disaster. So how do you find that seemingly all too common best friend that many find in their college roommate? If you are randomly assigned a roommate, you can’t necessarily control if you will “click” with that person, but there are plenty of ways to foster a relationship in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios we all hope to avoid. I have listed some tips below that you can use to establish a good connection with your new roommate:

  1. Reach out on social media. If you have never said hello to your roommate before you meet them in person, chances are you aren’t going to be very close with them.
  2. Be open. If you go into living with an entirely new person with a ton of expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration.
  3. Communicate with your roommate about the things that concern you. If there is something bothering you, say it. The roommates who become really good friends are the ones who can talk to each other about issues in a respectful manner and work on them together. Do not let things that bother you fester up inside of you or you will start to feel resentment rather than a growing friendship.
  4. Be considerate. Be aware that you and your roommate might come from very different backgrounds, and respect each other’s boundaries. Maybe even make an effort to explore each other’s cultural differences and perspectives if there are any.
  5. Do fun things together every once in a while. No relationship, friend or otherwise, will work if you never do anything fun together. Go to Disneyland or Chinatown or see a movie. There are plenty of things you can find to do that will help you and your roommate share happy and fun memories to build that close bond.
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