Going off to college is a huge adjustment. You’re living away from home—maybe even across the country—and out of your comfort zone. The good news is you’re far from alone. In fact, there’s one person we can guarantee you’ll be spending a lot of quality time with right off the bat—your freshman roommate.
That might not be the most comforting thought for many people, but the truth is your roommate can be a big help in those first few weeks. From the day you move in, you have someone right there who’ll go with you to get dinner, explore campus and figure out your residence hall’s temperamental washing machines.
Let’s back up a second, though. First, you have to actually get your roommate assignment. After doing a little social media snooping (don’t lie, we know you do it), it’s time to make contact. Living with a stranger is nerve-wracking for even the most outgoing people, but we’ve come up with a list of informative icebreakers that will help you get the roommate relationship off to a great start.
Even if you’ve opted to live with someone you’ve known since kindergarten, it’s a good idea to ask them these questions, too. Living with someone often brings a new set of challenges to the surface, and it can change the dynamic of a friendship—make sure it’s for the better.
Psst! Check out our Dorm Room Style Ideas!
Questions to Ask Your Future Roommate
What made you choose [insert name of college/university]?
Maybe your roommate received a great athletic scholarship, or maybe they’re super excited about your school’s top engineering program. They might come from a long line of alumni, or maybe they fell in love with all the green space on your school’s award-winning campus. Your roommate’s answer to this question can provide some insight into their personality and priorities.
What kind of classes are you taking this semester?
Some people like to take a lighter course load their first semester to help them adjust to college life, but others like to dive in headfirst with challenging classes. Knowing which route they took can help you be conscientious of their needs—something your roommate will likely appreciate and reciprocate.
What are your sleep and study habits like?
Sleeping and studying are going to take up a significant portion of your time in college. Not everyone’s on the same schedule, though, so it’s a good idea to talk to your roommate about this right away to avoid tension.
Are you messy or neat?
If your roommate’s completely disorganized, it’s not the end of the world. You just need to have a friendly conversation with them about whether they’re cool with keeping the mess contained to their desk or shelves. If your roommate’s a neat freak and you couldn’t care less about cleanliness, don’t rely on them to keep everything in order. Instead, learn from their ways! Trust us, no one will ever judge you for having a dorm room that’s not a health hazard.
What kind of upkeep will our room require, and how are we going to split cleaning duties?
Does your dorm have tile floors or carpet? Do you have a sink or a full bathroom? Will you have a fridge, microwave or other appliances that tend to attract messes? Figure out a cleaning schedule beforehand and save yourself some trouble.
How do you feel about people hanging out in our dorm? How do you feel about overnight guests?
Some people don’t mind coming home to a room full of people, while others crave privacy at the end of the day. Talk to your roommate about their expectations, and see how you can reach a compromise that makes everyone happy.
What are you looking for in a roommate relationship?
Some people daydream about being instant BFFs with their college roommate. Others have a more pragmatic view, and they’d be perfectly happy just being on friendly, albeit reserved terms. Knowing each other’s expectations (and tempering them, if need be) can keep you both from feeling annoyed or overwhelmed.
What are your pet peeves?
You and your roommate might both claim to be pretty laid back, but everyone has something that drives them up the wall. Maybe you hate the sound of popping bubble gum, or maybe your roommate can’t stand when people let the garbage can get too full before taking it out. It’s important to discuss pet peeves ahead of time so you can be mindful of your own behavior—and more gracious about other’s quirks.
How do you want to handle grocery shopping?
Don’t assume just because you offered your roommate a can of soda that you can help yourself to their Oreo stash. Figure out the best way to split up groceries, and please, don’t be the person who leaves an empty milk carton in the fridge.
Do you have any allergies?
A good roommate relationship is all about compromise. However, if you’ve practically lived on PB&Js up until this point, and your roommate has a severe peanut allergy, you’re the one who’s going to have to adapt.
Who’s bringing what?
Try to split costs as evenly as possible to ensure a smooth start with your new roommate. Plus, you’re not working with a ton of space, so it’s important to make sure you won’t have multiples of items that take up a lot of room. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our top dorm room essentials for you. Bonus: they all serve multiple purposes, helping you maximize your space.
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