Living with a Roommate

Healthy roommate relationships are only one piece of the Housing & Residence Life experience – a very BIG piece. The purpose of this section is to help you develop a positive relationship between you and your roommate. In it you will find conversation starters, tips for making it through the good and not-so-good times, and helpful tidbits of information collected from higher education professionals. There are several tools that you can bring with you to campus that will help you and your roommate kick-off the school year right.

Some of these tools include:
  • Respect
  • Flexibility
  • Trust
  • Willingness to communicate

A Compromising Situation

Many students have never had the chance to share a room with another person, while for others, a room to themselves would be an oddity. Sharing a living space requires flexibility, consideration, and effort of each roommate. You can get to know your roommate by discussing some of the following before they become an issue:

  • I assert myself in situations where…
  • I feel taken advantage of when…
  • My definition of compromise is…

In order to create and maintain a healthy roommate relationship, it is imperative that communication begins at the beginning. Living with another individual is a challenging situation for many people; however, a little extra effort can limit the number of confrontations later. You and your roommate should begin to learn about one another as soon as possible, and answers to the following questions are a great place to start.

  • Where are you from?
  • Do you know what your major will be?
  • What kind of work are you hoping to do?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are you looking forward to here at N.C. A&T? What things make you a little nervous?
  • Are you a morning or a night person? What time do you like to go to bed? Wake up?
  • When and how do you like to study?
  • Have you ever shared a room with another person?
  • What do you think are the most important things that we can work on to help us get along as roommates?

Once you have made it to campus and you and your roommate are alone in the room, talking about the following issues will help you “settle” in:

  • Arranging the room. Take this step together when you first move into the room so that you both feel like you belong in the room. Remember, the room can always be rearranged later to keep things “new.”
  • Using each other’s things. Discuss what things are OK to borrow and which items you would rather keep to yourself. Include clothing, CDs, food, video games, and computers

Communication Tips

  • A breakdown in communication is the most common problem for roommates who are unable to get along. Use the following strategies to help avoid possible arguments or confrontations:
    • Talk it out. Sooner or later, an issue is bound to come up that frustrates one of the roommates. Make the commitment to work disagreements out verbally between the two of you. Keep all the issues “on the table” and avoid going behind one another’s back.
    • Agree to disagree. Roommates don’t have to be mirror images of each other. It is important to remember that you are each your own individual. Being different from one another is what makes the experience beneficial to both roommates. Choose to respect one another’s perspectives and ideas. Remember that there is more than one way to look at an issue.
    • Leave messages. As roommates, you will rely on one another for contact with people outside of your room. Decide where messages will be left for one another. Include phone messages, dry-erase board messages, and messages from visitors.

Helping Hands

  • Life at college can have its rough days, which sometimes turn into rough weeks. Your roommate may experience difficulty and your automatic response may be to jump right in and help. However, it is important to recognize your limitations when it comes to helping. You should make sure that you are doing what is best for both you and your roommate.
  • Academic difficulty – Is your roommate sleeping through classes? Does he or she put homework to the side when social opportunities arise? Or, is he or she obsessed with grades and becomes upset when a bad grade is achieved?
  • Struggling with alcohol or other drugs – You may have noticed your roommate coming in late at night on several nights. Has your roommate begun hanging around with a new crowd of friends? Does your roommate seem to be in an altered state at times? Have you seen drug paraphernalia around the room? Is alcohol becoming a “normal” part of your roommate’s life?
  • Depression – Is your roommate sleeping a great deal during the day? Does your roommate cry frequently or ever mention harming himself or herself?
  • Family issues – Does your roommate dread going home for the weekend or for breaks? Has your roommate ever mentioned to you anything about family abuse at home? Have you overheard fights on the phone with people at home?
  • Unfortunately, there is no one cure-all that can fix any of the above situations or any others that may come up. The most important thing to remember is that you have resources in your hall as well as across campus. Don’t get in over your head. Get to know your RA, GHD and your Hall Director, and ask him or her to help!

Roommate + Roommate = Friends?

There is a myth out there that says that college roommates must be the best of friends. This is not true. Mere acquaintances can make the best roommates as long as the lines of communication are established and there is mutual respect. If you and your roommate are not best friends, don’t worry. It most likely means that you each have found people with common interests in other areas. Remember that you are both trying to meet new people and make new friends on campus.

Put It All Together

  • College roommates may turn out to be the best of friends or may part ways and head off in their own directions. Regardless of the differences between you and your roommate’s experiences, there are bound to be unforgettable moments that the two of you will share for the rest of your life. It is important to remember that the differences among people are what make our experiences memorable. You will soon find that different people can become compatible roommates.
  • A little effort, respect, care, and tact, plus an open mind, can help you increase your chances of creating and maintaining a strong roommate relationship.

Safety First!

  • Sharing your room with someone also means sharing responsibilities. Foremost among these are ensuring your personal safety. Each of you may have your own idea of what “being safe” means. Therefore, we ask you to discuss the following points:
    • Locking the room
    • Expectations for guest and visitor behavior
    • Sharing and posting passwords and number codes
    • Carrying your keys/id card at all times
    • Following the policies outlined by Housing & Residence Life