Tips for Living in Community

Going away to college may be one of the most exciting periods of your life. It can also be one of the scariest. Not only are you leaving your home and your family, possibly the only roommates you've ever known, but you may be moving in with a stranger who doesn't know your habits, your pet peeves, your stories. Not to worry. We're here to help make the transition as smooth as possible.


1. Communicate and Compromise. Open and honest communication is key in building a positive and successful relationship. Take some time and talk over the course of a few days and see if other questions come up. Also talk about how you would like to be talked to and how you talk to others when there is a problem or conflict. Living together can be stressful and knowing how the other person operates means that you can resolve conflicts before they grow too large.

2. Don't expect your roommate to be your best friend. Consider your roommate someone you need to be friendly to and to get along with. If you don't feel like your roommate is your best friend, that is totally normal and sometimes for the best. You also don't need to feel obligated to spend time together outside of the room.

3. Define Cleanliness. Whether you're a neat freak or a slob, you have someone else's feelings to consider. With a little give and take, you can each adjust accordingly and make your environment comfortable.

4. Discuss visitation hours. Talk about when it's okay and when it's not okay to have visitors in the room. Also discuss how often you both plan to have people over. Do you want your room to be a social center or a refuge from the crowds? How about different gendered guests? When are they allowed in the room? Do you think you might have overnight guests? What are the rules for them?

5. Study Times & Habits. Talk about what you like to do to prepare for classes and tests. Do you think you will study in the room or in another place like the library or a study room. If you plan on doing most of your work in your room, talk about scheduling times so that you both can fully use the room and not conflict with each other’s activities.

6. What are your sleeping habits? Do you like the window open? How about running a fan? Do you like the TV on to fall asleep to? How about when you go to bed? Noise in the morning—can you sleep through a hairdryer going? What kinds of things affect your getting a good night’s rest?

7. What are your thoughts about sharing? Just because you are sharing a room, doesn’t mean you want to share other things. Talk about what you want to share and what you want of your own. Can you share a TV? Computer? Refrigerator? What about clothes, appliances or food? Setting these boundaries early can avoid later conflicts.

8. Pet peeves and personal habits. What is a big pet peeve for you? What is something that really bothers you? How do you deal with conflict? Do you yell, get quiet, and nurse a grudge? You have the chance to talk in advance before you establish a relationship with this person—use it!