Setting Expectations with Your College Roommates

Failing to set expectations can spell disaster for any group of college roommates, regardless of whether or not you are friends with the people with whom you are living. Being assigned a random roommate definitely carries its risks (particularly if you are worried about having a roommate who needs to call home to South Korea in the middle of the night), but living with friends poses its own set of problems as well. You’ll have to carefully assess whatever you situation you get yourself into, but here’s a basic formula for handling any roommate assignment:

Communicate your expectations
This is your best option in any situation. It may seem like it would be easier to communicate with your friends than a random person, but it’s not. You enter a relationship with a random college roommates with both sides understanding that there will be some things to work out. However, if you’re living with friends, it is probably because you all get along already. But talking about sports is different than talking about whether or not your friends can take your Eggo Waffles without asking. As soon as you bring up a roommate contract or setting up rules, you run the risk of being made fun of for being too uptight. You then have to balance your priorities: having an awkward conversation vs. having an awkward year.

Write down your expectations
This may be more important with random college roommates, since you will most likely trust your friends enough to adhere to whatever expectations you put forth. If you write down your expectations, they then turn into law.  So when your roommate starts dialing home to South Korea at 4am, you just have to show him where he signed on the dotted line. Writing your expectations down turns them from preferences and suggestions into rules.

Live by your expectations
This is the one thing that can’t be overlooked. Telling your college roommates that you won’t share your Eggo Waffles with them, then turning around just to heist their Bagel Bites makes you a hypocrite and completely invalidates any good rapport you had previously established. You cannot expect others to respect your space and belongings when you cannot be disciplined enough to do it yourself. Treat others the way you would like to be treated, and you will most likely get what you want out of your experience with roommates.

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