4 Things to Know About Having a Roommate in College

College is a completely unique environment—one unlike anything else most of us have ever experienced or ever will again.

One of the main things that defines these four(ish) years of your life once you move away to college? Having roommates. Sure, you might have grown up with siblings and possibly even shared a room with them at some point in time, but it's a whole different world when you're no longer under your parents' roof—not to mention the fact that the person or people you'll be living with were probably previously strangers to you.

Worry not, though, as having roommates can actually be one of the best elements of the college experience! With that said, here are a few things you should know about having a roommate in college (and some tips on how you can make the most of the situation):

1. They Might Not Become Your Besties, But That's Okay

A lot of us have this idea that on move-in day, our new roomie will become your go-to first friend in college. In reality, however, this isn't always so true. Sure, your university might try it's best to match up people with similar lifestyles and interests (often you'll fill out a roommate preference or information form when applying for a dorm or off-campus apartment), but that's in no way a guarantee that you and the person you'll now be cohabitating with will automatically get along. You might have completely different tastes, lifestyles or values that mean that you just don't "click" as friends, but that's okay. Remember that at the end of the day, you're in college for your education and this is just someone that you have to share a space with. Just play nice and be yourself; if a friendship is meant to happen, it will.

Shutterstock: Two pretty brunette friends hang out on the sofa in a modern apartment, roommates students, joke, tell funny stories, laugh, very good relationship, common topics, white smile

(via Shutterstock)


2. Boundaries Are Important

It doesn't matter whether you're in an apartment-style setting where you get your own bedroom and only have to share common spaces or if you're in a more classic bunk-beds-and-showers-down-the-hall situation—setting boundaries can make all the difference in avoiding roommate tensions (or worse, roommate fights). It's okay if the boundaries are about the "little things" too, remember that this is probably a brand-new environment and living situation for both of you, so there's a learning curve no matter what. Soon after settling in, try to openly discuss things like how cold you like the AC at, what time you usually go to bed, what noise levels you can tolerate, what your study schedule is like (and if you need it completely quiet during that time) and how you'd like to discuss having guests over. Talking about these things in an open and non-judgmental way is the best way to break down barriers with your new roomie and avoid any issues down the line.

Shutterstock: Roommates talking together in living-room

(via Shutterstock)


3. They'll Help You Learn More About Yourself Than You Think

Whether they become your friends or remain the people you simply share a space with, your roommates are an integral part of helping you "grow up" in college. After all, one of the best things about moving away to college is that it's a perfect first taste of "real world" life without all the real world responsibility, meaning it's the perfect time to start learning more about how to be independent. From having conversations about your boundaries to realizing that you like things as clean and tidy as possible (or that you're actually "the messy one"), there are a lot of things you'll learn through the experience of having a roommate that help you grow more than you might think.


4. Dorm Styles and Décor Matter Less Than You Think

Thinking about how you're going to decorate your dorm is exciting, especially when Target and all the other stores roll out their college gear every year. It's a fun way to show off your personality and sense of style, but trying to make sure that your style will mesh with your roommate's? Just not that worth it in the end. If they got there before you and already decorated the common areas, try to seek a stylistic compromise. If it doesn't work, though, remember that you'll only be living with them in this space for a few months and it might just not be worth it to make a big deal about it. If you're able to, try to discuss any big-ticket items or decorating details that you can before move-in day. This goes for everything from mini-fridges and toasters to posters, fairy lights and beyond.

Shutterstock: Full length back view portrait of young Asian woman decorating new home while moving in to new house or apartment, copy space

(via Shutterstock)


All in all, there's no need to stress about moving in with a roommate in college—it can be one of the highlights of the whole time! No matter what your roomie situation ends up looking like, though, it's good to get a head start on acquiring some dorm essentials.

For some ideas on just that, check out our list of must-haves by clicking HERE. And to put your mind even further at ease about dorm life, click HERE to read our list of benefits of living in a dorm.