Freshman rooming situations can be a nightmare. My midwestern roomie got falling-down drunk every Thursday through Sunday night, while the Louisiana boy who shared a bunk bed with me made frequent ceremonial offerings to a legendary bayou voodoo queen. I realized within days that we were not going to be lifelong best friends. My goal was survival.
Getting great freshman roommates is more a matter of luck than theresult of a college's sophisticated match-up process. While your enteringfreshman has no control over her lottery-like roommate pairing, she does havethe power to create successful roommate relationships. Here are some tips foryour child:
- Don't be disappointed if you and your roommate are not going to be bestfriends. Casual, mutually respectful relationships can provide you with asatisfying, secure "home base" as you navigate the foreign waters ofcollege life. Let these relationships develop naturally, without expectingthat you and your roommate will always be doing things together.
- Establish house rules. As soon as possible, get together over a meal tocreate a plan for peaceful, responsible coexistence. Now is the time to letyour roomie know your sleeping habits (are you a morning or anight person?), your noise-tolerance capacity (Green Day cranked to maximumvolume will melt your skin), your feelings about people borrowing yourthings without asking (no one uses your toothbrush ever) and whetheryou're a slob or a neat freak (is a picked-up but dirty room okay with you?).
- Create roommate rituals. Give yourselves a chance to get to know eachother better by establishing regular roommate get-togethers: going out fora sandwich once a week, taking in a movie once a month, watching a favoriteTV show, and celebrating each other's birthdays.
- Displays of common courtesy and empathy are the basis of successfulroommate relationships. Make sure to take down and communicate yourroommate's phone messages. Be sensitive to how your roommate feels aboutgirlfriends or boyfriends staying overnight. Offer some encouraging and supportive words when roommates are anxious about their first big test or term paper.
- Sometimes roommate situations becomeunbearable, even if you've tried hard to make it work. Your room must be a place where you can find relativepeace and harmony. Toughing it out in an unhealthy roommate environmentwill adversely affect all aspects of your freshman life. Ask your college'sstudent housing and/or counseling office to help you find a betterarrangement.
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