Moving away to college involves plenty of changes, including living accommodations. Dorm life can mean culture shock for students used to the rules and amenities of home.
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From more lenient curfews to close quarters with strangers, adjusting definitely has its ups and downs.
Your little brother was annoying, but at least you could annoy him back and beg your parents for a reprieve. So what happens if you’re bunking with someone who is equally annoying? RAs are trained in conflict management, but you can’t really yell, “Tell him to get out of my room” when it’s his room too.
Yes, some college roommates become BFFs and some don’t. But you don’t have to be BFFs to be excellent roommates. Below are five tips to help maximize the relationship and assess whether it’s time to hang in there or jump ship for a new assignment.
From more lenient curfews to close quarters with strangers, dorm life definitely has its ups and downs.
1. Good roommates don’t have to be inseparable.
Build friendships beyond your dorm room. Sometimes too much togetherness can inadvertently create tension as new relationships are formed and one roommate pursues independent social activities.
2. Don’t expect perfection.
This is the real world, so lower your expectations just a little bit. It can take time to adjust to new personalities, and it’s not unusual for first impressions to be wrong impressions. Wait a while before passing judgment.
3. Respect property, space and schedules.
You may be laid back and used to sharing, but not everyone shares the sentiment. Ask before borrowing something or creating major distractions like hosting parties or blasting music in your room.
Become familiar and considerate of your roommate’s schedule. Your first class may be at noon, but if she’s rushing out the door at 8 a.M., Some compromising might be in order.
4. Pay attention!
If your roommate seems troubled, help him/her contact the university’s mental health center. If you believe he/she poses a danger to himself/herself, to you, or to others, consult your RA and contact the mental health center, safety office and/or your dean of students for immediate guidance.
5. Consult the experts.
Not every match is a perfect one, and some can feel toxic. This is the time to get advice.
Fortunately, you’re in a place where there’s plenty of free guidance from people with training. University administrators and faculty are familiar with common student conflicts and RAs are trained in protocol for many of these situations.
Find an advisor to help you determine if it’s time to consider a different room assignment. Remember, this is a common predicament and one that can be resolved. Handling the matter safely and sensitively will help everyone’s transition.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. Is the author of “College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get Into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Relationship, and Mind.” An accomplished psychologist, speaker and award-winning lifestyle humorist, she is a former full-time university professor, and the mom of a college graduate and college sophomore . Follow her on Twitter and check out her College Bound & Gagged Humor Blog.
This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.