By Janelle Higdon
(And what to do when you don’t)
Just because you’re attending a Christian university doesn’t mean you’ll have a perfect roommate. For that matter, you won’t be a perfect roommate either.
A Christian college does give you the benefit of a community striving for unity in Christ. This is powerful and beautiful for addressing challenging relationships, especially in residence halls.
Whether you’re a prospective student getting ready to meet your amazing new roommate, or a current student facing roommate challenges, follow these simple tips to get along with your dorm-sharing friends.
Building good relationships with your college roommates
Your college residence hall will be your home on campus. It’s where you’ll study, sleep, and have fun hanging out with friends. Building strong relationships with your roommates from square one will help you all to have a positive experience. Here are some of our top tips for roommate success:
Start with communication
- Talk about your expectations for your space. Some people care a lot about a room’s layout. Some people don’t care at all. Brainstorm together with your roommates to figure out a good configuration and arrange the furniture together. (There’s nothing like bonding over carrying heavy furniture.)
- Get an understanding of everyone’s routines. Find out if your roommates are early-risers or night-owls. Make a plan for how you can be courteous of each other’s schedules.
- If you have a pet peeve about something, verbalize it in advance. Don’t hold back for fear of being offensive, because you will end up building resentment if your roommate has that behavior. Now is the time to mention if you hate dishes in the sink, or if toothpaste splatters on the mirror make you want to die.
Need a tool to kick off your communication? Download this nifty Roommate Agreement Form to cover topics ranging from chores to quiet time rules.
Facing conflict with your college roommates
It’s almost inevitable that you will disagree with your roommate at some point during the year. So how do you deal with it?
Here are some tips from Todd Monger, North Central University’s Executive Director of Student Development.
- Learn to be assertive, not aggressive. When you have an issue with your roommate, don’t hesitate to bring it up. But approach the issue with kindness. Assertive communication combines self-worth and self-respect, with empathy for the other person’s worth.
- Use “I” statements, rather than “you” statements. When you approach a conflict with “you” statements, it will automatically appear that you are placing blame, setting the other party on the defensive. Using “I” statements helps you to take ownership for your feelings and gives the other person room to respond with their own.
Using the empathy statement, “I feel [emotion] because/when [action]” helps create clear communication in emotional situations.
- Ask for help if you need it. If you’re having a hard time resolving conflict with your roommate, ask your Resident Assistant or your Resident Director for help with mediation. It’s never too late to repair your roommate relationship.
Forming friendships with your college roommates
Spend time with your roomies! This is essential to becoming friends with your college roommates.
In addition to establishing great communication, set aside time for a movie night. Order takeout. Walk to the grocery store and buy a pint of ice cream. Also, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Your residence hall should be a safe place for you to be yourself and grow throughout your college journey.
If you invest in them, your friendships with your college roommates can last a lifetime.