I’m going to be upfront here–whether you are new to college, anxious about starting your first year away from home, or you are a returning student who was unfortunate enough not to have found a compatible roommate yet, it is a nerve wracking experience to talk to your college roommate for the first time. Or any roommate, for that matter. So now that you’ve received that email telling you who your roommate is going to be, you’ve added them as a friend, and you’ve finished stalking their Facebook profile, it’s time to get down to business. Make sure that these questions to ask your new college roommate are on your when you have your first conversation:
1. What things annoy you?
Yes, this is an awkward question to open up with, but you’re already in an awkward position as you talk to your roommate for the first time. So might as well clear the air while you are at that stage. This will definitely help you from unknowingly irking your roommate a few weeks in.
2. What are your sleeping habits?
If you’re an early riser with 8am classes and your roommate carefully planned to never have to wake up before noon, it’s probably a good thing to know now. That way, you can set up a lights-out/sound-off time ahead of time, and you both can site this agreement when someone breaks it later on.
3. What is your view on visitors/overnight guests?
Not asking this question was the biggest cause of my roommate problems during one of my semesters living in the dorms. You really need to set the rules with this one: are you okay with visitors of the opposite gender? Significant others? How many friends are you okay with? What is the max they can stay? Once they start coming around, and you aren’t happy with it, it’s a little too late by then. So set the standard early so your sanctuary stays a sanctuary. And you can possibly prevent being sexiled too many times.
4. How clean/messy are you?
If you are a neat freak, having a messy roommate can be tough, but if you know ahead of time, you can at least constrain their mess to one part of the shared space. Being too dirty is just an invitation for unwanted guests (i.e., bugs and rats) so you really need to agree on how messy is too messy.
5. What are your thoughts on sharing?
Some people are more generous than others are, and that’s okay. But you definitely do not want to start a conflict because someone didn’t know it was not okay to take some of your snags or borrow your shoes/clothes. Some people are okay with you borrowing once and only once, so you need to ask everytime. Some people just aren’t conscious of this, so make them aware of it straight away.
6. What are your study habits?
Some people prefer to study in their rooms, some prefer to cram in the library. It’s better to know this ahead of time, because it will definitely play a role in how they will answer the other questions, like when they are not okay with guests at all because a midterm is coming up.
7. Are you a morning/night shower person?
This is more important for girls, and more specifically, girls who have showers in their dorm rooms rather than community showers. I had a roommate that showered in the morning and spent at least 2 hours primping, and that was incredibly annoying because we had class at the same time. This meant I had to wake up earlier than she to get ready at all, and I learned to shower at night even though I liked to shower in the morning. Be ready to adjust this so you guys won’t be stepping on each other’s toes in the morning before classes.
8. What are your decorating preferences?
He/she might like the bare bones cinderblock wall you will have as decoration. Some will prefer to have a decked out room. It’s good to know ahead of time so you can coordinate.
9. Are you bringing any furniture?
My roommate and I split on a cheap mini fridge and microwave to share for the year, and I know some friends that brought extra furniture (even if it wasn’t allowed in dorms). To save on cost, it would be a good idea to coordinate on this as well.
10. What are your needs on privacy?
Some people are lucky enough to be complete opposites, where one is never in the room and the other is always in the room. Some are not so lucky. It’s extremely important to negotiate on private space and time so that you will not always be in each other’s hair. I got so tired of living with people at one point because I never had a night alone, which I needed to recuperate from the week. So talk about this. It will make your life a lot easier.
My residence hall let us settle in for a week before requiring us to set the ground rules. I disagree with this method; you should talk about it the moment you meet, or via Facebook, before you ever meet face-to-face. People are always more polite the first month they live with each other, and then the problems start creeping up and then it’s too late. So think about what you really need out of this relationship with your new roommate, and preparing these questions to ask your new college roommate will be very helpful in developing your needs. That way, you can actually make the best out of your school year.
[line]Photo courtesy of millermz via Flickr (licensed under CC BY 2.0).
Check out the video below about how to live with your college roommate!