Questions to Ask Your College Roommate


If Hollywood depictions of dormitory life were to be believed, you could safely assume you'll get one of two roommates. Option A, your best friend with whom you share your collegiate glory days. Option B, a psychopath stalker who steals your snacks and blasts heavy metal at 4 a.m. Reality: Your roommate will probably fall between these two extremes, but asking a few key questions will help get things off to a smooth start.

Who Brings What?

  • Get in touch with your future roomie before the big move-in day. Dormitory rooms come furnished with beds and desks, but depending on your university, you and your roommate will probably have to fend for yourselves when it comes to other no less essential items such as televisions, microwaves and fans. Plus, squeezing two mini-fridges into a cubicle-sized room is seriously going to cramp your style. Make sure you and your roommate are clear on who's going to bring what and you'll both make the transition to dormitory life much easier.

What's Your Schedule?

  • If your roommate has Principles of Microeconomics at 8:00 a.m. every Tuesday, you can bet she doesn't want you watching sitcoms at full volume late Monday night. You, on the other hand, might want to invest in earplugs or an eye mask so she's less likely to wake you up while she drags herself out of bed early in the morning. Another reason to familiarize yourself with your roomie's schedule: The fact is, even if the two of you do really hit it off, there will be times when you just need some space. If you know your roommate has class from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, or that she heads to to the gym every Saturday morning, you can plan to have the whole dorm room to yourself at those times.

Sleeping and Studying

  • Sleeping and studying will be the main activities you perform in your dorm room, so don't underestimate the importance of discussing your terms and conditions for both with your roommate. Will it really bother your roommate if you talk on the phone or listen to music in the room while she's studying? What is your roommate's tolerance to light/noise while she's sleeping? Could she snooze through World War III, or will she be really annoyed if you need to get up and make yourself a midnight snack every so often?

Can I Borrow...?

  • Whether you like it or not, you're going to be sharing some tight living quarters with your roommate for at least a semester. Beyond that, what you share is up to you. Keep in mind a little generosity both ways can make life easier for you and your roommate. Ask your roommate how she feels about sharing basic items. If you realize you're out of shampoo on the morning of a big class presentation, is it okay if you borrow some of hers? If you allow her to use your printer from time to time, would she be willing to pitch in for new ink cartridges?

    Don't forget to discuss sharing food. Nothing can set off a roommate rivalry like coming home from a long day of classes to discover your roomie polished off that slice of leftover pizza you've been dreaming about all afternoon.

How do You Feel About Guests?

  • If you're inviting friends to hang out in your room, does your roommate want a few hours' notice, or is she okay with impromptu visits? What if she has friends over but you've got an exam tomorrow and really need some quiet study time? Agreeing to send one another discreet texts or to otherwise politely signal that a guest has overstayed her welcome will help you to avoid a lot of potential roommate drama. Don't forget that your roommate's stipulations or expectations in terms of visitors will probably vary depending on whether it's a school night or a weekend.

    You might feel tempted to tread delicately when it comes to discussing visits from your roomie's boyfriend or girlfriend, or from your own, but it's better in the long run to be upfront. Make sure you and your roommate are clear on any boundaries either of you have when it comes to overnight guests and/or visitors of the opposite gender.

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