Dear QB: How do I get along with my college roommate?

DearQBCollege move-in season is here, which means many students are living in tight quarters with a new roommate, or— in some cases — new roommates for the first time. Whether your roommate is a friend or someone you just met, this new living situation is ripe for opportunities to grow personally and inter-personally. Today, we’re highlighting some of the best ways for you to cultivate healthy relationships with your roommate.

Get to know each other.

The start of the school year can be packed with orientation activities, but it’s important to spend time getting to know your roommate one-on-one. Choose a night of the week to check out a new dining hall, or explore campus together. Remember that the college experience is just as new for your roommate as it is for you, so you already have that common ground.

Spending time together is the first step to gaining a better understanding of each other’s perspective, and this can set you up for success moving forward.

Set some ground rules or guidelines.

The best way to avoid potential conflict is to set expectations. Make sure to write down ground rules that both you and your roommate agree to adhere to. As you do this, consider your roommate’s perspective. Rules that may be important to you may not be as important to him/her — and vice versa. If a specific rule is very important to you, make sure to explain why.

Habits to consider as you make ground rules include:

  • Cleaning (taking out the trash, making beds, cleaning duties)
  • Safety (inviting visitors, locking the door, leaving windows open)
  • Noise level (leaving the room for a phone call, wearing headphones while listening to music)
  • Borrowing or using each other belongings (movies, clothing, jewelry)
  • Sharing food — or not!
  • Alarm settings
  • Sleeping and studying schedules — it is very important to set these expectations ahead of time.

After you have set these guidelines, discuss how you will confront the situation if someone isn’t following them.

Treat your roommate as you would want to be treated.

There’s a reason why this simple but important rule is ubiquitous — respect can go a long way! The room you are sharing is just as much your roommate’s as it is yours. So, before you turn on the TV while your roommate is studying, think about how you would want to be treated while you’re studying.

In many cases, the best roommate is not someone who becomes your best friend; he/she is simply someone with whom you share mutual respect.

Dear QB is an advice column for QuestBridge applicants and QuestBridge Scholars. To submit a question to Dear QB, email questions@questbridge.org.