Dorm roommates

The first week of the fall semester is usually known as syllabus week and for some, the homework starts to come in. During this week, roommates are taking the time to figure out each others' schedules and boundaries. 

Balancing stress from classes, activities and relationships can be tricky for everyone, from unseasoned freshmen to experienced seniors. Roommate relationships can be especially difficult to grasp and unfortunately may lead to some awkward situations.

Experts such as Pete Englin, director of the Department of Residence; Courtney Beringer, community adviser and junior in mechanical engineering; and Jenny Omvig, ISU alumna; offer guidance on navigating the dos and don'ts of how to achieve and maintain a healthy roommate relationship without all of the frustrations.


1. Start with an open mind

It's easy to stroll into your new dorm with your shower caddy in one hand and a laundry list of concerns in the back of your mind, but don’t let your new roommate be one of them. They are just as new to this as you are, so limit your fears.

2. Make a roommate contract

If you would rather not have your roommate bring their three best friends into your dorm at 3 a.m., make a roommate contract, and stick to it. This will lay down the laws and hopefully avoid unnecessary conflict.

3. Communicate

Your roommate may not know you don’t like their music blasting when you are trying to study if you don’t have a conversation with them.

4. Get to know them

Invite your roommate to hang out with you outside your dorm and get the chance to know them. Who knows, your roommate could end up being in your wedding someday.

5. Do the little things

Everyone likes kind and considerate people. Step up and complete simple household chores such as taking out the garbage or picking up the mail.

6. Know each other’s limits

As roommates, you have an unspoken responsibility to take care of each other and to step in when you see they need advice or help. Don’t be afraid to offer assistance.

7. Keep the area clean

No one likes a slob; don’t be that person.

8. If a conflict does arise, use “I feel” statements

Raising your voice and exploding on your roommate may seem like the best method of getting your point across. However, using “I feel” statements to express your concerns is the most effective way of resolving issues.

9. Give them space

Instead of constantly studying in your dorm, take advantage of other quiet areas, such as hall dens or cafés, to give your roommate some breathing room.

10. Stick it out

After living with your roommate for a couple of weeks, you may want to resolve your dorm contract and give up on college, but stick with it. You will have to interact with people you don’t like for the rest of your life, and learning how to practice some patience will help you in the long run. However, if you really can’t stand your roommate, you can always switch rooms the next semester.


1. Make assumptions

Your roommate may be a completely different version of the person you are stalking on Facebook. We all make snap judgments about people, however, try to limit your opinions until after you get to know them.

2. Room with your best friend

It may seem like the perfect plan, but trying to balance your friendship and living arrangement may strain your relationship altogether.

3. Expect to be best friends

You will be seeing a lot of this person on a daily basis and may get tired of them at some point. It's normal to want to hang out with other people and take a break from each other.

4. Use their things without permission

5. Be bossy or judgmental

You are not the same as your roommate, and vice versa. Accepting that you are both different is essential to creating and maintaining any healthy relationship.

6. Always ditch your roommate

It may be more in your comfort zone to hang out with other friends, but learn to build a strong relationship with people you would not normally have as friends.

7. Speak negatively about your roommate’s activities

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