With a new semester already in the works, you are probably already experiencing a lot of change. You have new professors, new classes, new homework assignments, and most importantly, new roommates.
Roommates can have a huge impact on your college experience. If you’ve had roommates before, you know that they are all very unique. You never know what a person will be like until after you’ve lived with them for awhile. It can be a little nerve-wracking at first. And let’s be honest, a roommate can be very easy to hate. They leave their stuff all over the apartment, they are probably the ones eating your food, and they keep opening your mail.
Your college experience doesn’t have to revolve around a miserable roommate. There are things you can do to keep yourself from getting too overwhelmed with a roomie who feels like he can trash everything he looks at. These tips and ideas should help you from hating college, hating your roommate, and getting the police called because you have beaten him senseless.
1. Establish Your Expectations
This might be a little awkward, but it’ll save you a headache or two during the semester. Your roommate will respect you for it. Sit down with him and say, “Look bro (cause that’s how we all talk, right?), I’m cool with just about everything, but let me lay down a couple of things that drive me crazy.” Then go ahead and tell him the top two or three things that make you go all sorts of nuts. If your list is 10 or 20 items long, you’re over-thinking it and you should probably relax a bit. Just pick the major things. If you aren’t willing to share anything at all, ever, the dorm life isn’t your scene. Move back in with Ma ‘n Pa.
You have to be willing to give a little if you plan on living with complete strangers. Lay down your law first. That will give him time to respond with his beefs, and you should be set. You might bug him as much as he bugs you.
If you didn’t establish things right up front, there’s still time to do that. It’s not too late. Just tell him you want to talk about a couple things and then address it. If you call him out right after you saw him funnel the rest of your Cap’n Crunch down his gullet, things might get heated and you probably won’t get around to what you wanted to bring up anyway. Take the emotion out of it early so that neither of you has to get defensive.
2. Find Some Common Ground
Say you’re a dedicated student. You are in the library or in class 75% of your week. You are a 4.0 student and you are living relatively comfortable with your fat scholarship. Congrats, you’ve earned it. Now the only thing standing between you and another successful semester is your crazy roommate. He doesn’t do his part around the apartment, so you have to spend less time on your studies and more time cleaning up after him. Of course, you aren’t just going to leave it there. A student like yourself will not be known as the grungy kid who can’t pass cleaning checks. So there you are, being responsible for just about everything. Your roommate seems to be in college only because mommy and daddy are making him go and paying every dime. He drives a spotless, lifted gas-guzzler and you know he never worked a minute to earn it. He dresses like a rodeo clown and leaves his energy drinks everywhere. It’s like with every passing day, you two become more and more driven apart.
So what do you do? Are you going to let this entitled rich kid ruin everything you’ve worked so hard for? No, you’re not. Find something you are both interested in. Maybe you both indulge in the occasional video game. Maybe you play online role-play games and he plays Battlefield. That’s a start. Maybe you both play an instrument. Perhaps even you both enjoy the same type of food or music. Any one of those things is a good starting point. If you can find some common ground, your itch you call a roommate soon becomes a friend who happens to be way different than me, but at least we have this one thing that we both like.
3. Don’t be a Doormat. That’s What Doormats are for.
If you have tried everything you can think of, including and especially the tactics listed above, don’t just throw in the towel. Respect his things and stand your ground. You don’t need to fight about anything, but if he knows he can take advantage of you and your stuff, it won’t make things any better. You will have essentially entered into an abusive relationship. You can’t back down after making a stand, or it’ll just get worse. Maintain your ground about the specific things bothering you. If he doesn’t change, then perhaps it’s time to remove that thing or event that’s causing the problems. If you decide to stand up and stick to your guns, make sure you stay that way. Nothing could be worse than pretending like you never said anything at all.
I’m confident that proper application of the first two points will help you a whole lot. But don’t underestimate the value of point #3. You’ve got to stick to your guns. Take these tips for roommates, stick them in a crockpot, and let them marinate for awhile. Mmmm, peace.