For college women
Tips on College Roommate Relations: picking a good one & maintaining the fun
By: Kristen Szustakowski, Creative Direction Assistant, Campus Calm®
We have all had, or know someone who has had, less than desirable roommates. Circulating in the dining halls are horror stories: the guy who doesn't shower, the girl who's boyfriend never leaves, and the kid who insists on keeping the lights off and the blinds closed all day. As a former Resident Assistant, I have seen all kinds of problems with roommates, many of which can be fixed before it turns into a suite that keeps their food in locked tool boxes in the fridge. (True story!)
Here are a list of ideas to keep in mind when choosing your next roommate, as well as how to fix the issues with the less-than-awesome ones.
Re-Evaluate Your BFF: Rooming with your best friend might seem like the most obvious and best choice, and often times it just might be; however, it's not a decision that should be made lightly. While you and your BFF might have taken every class together since the 1st grade and have everything in common under the sun, the roommate is a completely new and different role. Some thoughts you may want to consider are: Do I want to see this person at my home in addition to the places I already see him/her? What happens if there is an argument between us, or I just need space? How in sync are our living habits? You don't want to be frustrated with your best buddy because of some dirty dishes.
Focus on Your Habits: How you act in your living space might be the most important criteria for choosing a roommate. Take a moment to think about how you live: What hours do you sleep? When do you do homework, and what type of environment do you need to get it done? Do you clean on a regular basis or only when you can't find what smells? Are you a quiet person or a loud person? Do you like a lot of light, or do you prefer it dark? Is your living space just a bed to crash at the end of a long day, or is it something more? How often do you have friends/your significant other over? At the end of the day, the chances of you and your roommate getting along has nothing to do with you both being nutrition majors and Battlestar Galactica fans. It's all about how alike you live.
Set Some Ground Rules: While this idea may seem a little unnecessary to some, it's absolutely needed in every living space and is often already implemented without any actual discussion (example: clean up your own mess.) Ground rules can also be what fixes issues between roommates who find themselves with different living habits. In my R.A. experience, the most common issues solved with a few rules have to do with cleanliness and visitors. Some example rules may be: Do your own dishes within 48 hours, alternate who takes out the trash, no guys in the girls suite bathroom, and visitors need to leave by midnight on weekdays.
When All Else Fails: While communication can solve the majority of roommate problems, sometimes the issue between you and your roommate is just too great to fix yourself. Perhaps you didn't't have the option of choosing a roommate, or maybe there's been a fight too grand and too personal to continue living together. Those who dorm on campus can speak to a resident assistant, resident director, or another member of Residence Life. These staff members have gone through training in resolving conflicts and may be able to help alleviate the issue, or allow you to switch rooms.
While the undesirable roommate stories do exist, so do the stories of roommate fun. You will hear one autumn afternoon, as you crunch through the leaves on your way to class, about how the girls in 302 tried to bake chocolate chip cookies in the microwave and instead set it on fire, or how the guys next door were up all night listening to Queen's “Another One Bites the Dust” and defending themselves from carpenter ants.
Your roommate is who you're going to complain to when you did the same math problem four times and still have the wrong answer. They are going to be the one who sees you walk through the door, sopping wet, because you forgot an umbrella. They're probably going to be the last person you see when you go to bed, and the first person when you wake up. They're your partner in crime. So pick a good one!
Do you resonate with Maria & Kristen's stories? If so, you're the person Maria's speaking to in her book Campus Calm University, which Kristen contributed to. It's designed to empower you to give up the exhausting pursuit of perfection (whether it's grades or body), and instead embrace the real steps to success, health, happiness and leadership. Chapters teach you how to be a lifelong learner, infuse your career search with some PG passion, love yourself, embrace risk, focus inward and surround yourself with a network of positive people who can help you reach your goals. And much more too!