Dealing with Difficult College Roommates

One of the biggest challenges of dorm life is figuring out how to get along with college roommates. You'll be assigned a roommate for freshman year. Chances are that you won't know this person and you may have nothing in common. Problems will arise, because it's natural for two people living together to have some conflicts from time to time. Most of these problems can be solved easily if you set parameters before you move in or during the first days of college life.

Have an Open Mind
Accept from the start that people are different, and that you and your roommate will have different opinions, cultural or religious attitudes, upbringings and preferences. You may be a morning person and he a night owl; you might be messy and she meticulously neat. You may like heavy metal music and he classical. Whatever separates you, if you begin with acceptance, you may have an easier experience working things out.

Be Open to Compromise
If it turns out that you and your roommate are vastly different, plan out with you both need to make it work. If that involves being extra quiet when the other person is sleeping, or keeping the music in headphones when the other person is in the room, you can find a way to make it work when both of you are committed.

Be Considerate
Try to keep your roommate's habits in mind. If you can do this, you can be considerate and try not to do things she finds disturbing. If that means cleaning up after yourself more than you usually would, it could be worth the peace and appreciation to put in some extra effort.

If something is a problem, try to sit down and discuss it rather than letting resentment fester, just to explode later. Try to have a peaceful discussion, with listening on both sides, and reach an agreement that will prevent further dispute.

If It Isn't Working
If you really can't live with each other, and you have put in a good amount of effort, there are resources available to you. Let your Resident Advisor mediate or get more help for you. In severe cases, a move may be the only solution.

Don't let all of this scare you; most freshman roommates find a way to get along, and some go on to become lifelong friends. The adventure of meeting new people and sharing ideas is a big part of dormitory life, so keep an open and optimistic mind.

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