Ah, dorm rooms: those small cage-like boxes where they cram in as many students as the fire-safety limits allow. Living in such close quarters can turn complete strangers into the best of friends, or, if you’re not careful, lifelong enemies. To help ensure a fight-free school year, we at College Magazine prepared a list of Dos and Don’ts that will make living with your roommates just a little more bearable.
1. DON’T: expect your roommates to share the same standards of living as you. Maybe you’re a neat-freak, maybe you’re a little more of a messy-Bessy. College is a great opportunity to meet people outside your normal circles, so don’t miss out on that by rejecting a person for the way they keep their room.
DO: try to be understanding. If you know that your roommate likes a clean area, don’t let your dirty clothes erupt into his or her sacred space, because the chances are that he or she will retaliate with a vengeance. Likewise, even if you’re the reincarnation of Mr. Clean himself, try to understand that organization comes easier to some people than others.
That being said…
2. DON’T: pick now to see how long you can go without a shower. Personal hygiene is crucial when you’re living with a lot of people in a little bit of space. You’d be surprised how easy it is for a room to start smelling like a boy’s locker room just because of a couple of dirty hampers.
DO: practice basic human cleanliness. Not only will it make things go smoother for the room as a whole, but it’s genuinely a healthier way of living, and college is a battleground for the immune system without the extra hurdle of dirty living arrangements.
3. DON’T: bring back your one-night-stand without alerting your roommates. Nobody likes being kicked out of their room, and the only thing worse than that is waking up after your roommate assumed you were “sound asleep.”
DO: agree to a rule beforehand about late night gentleman or lady callers. Whether it’s as simple as a 20 minute warning text or as strict as a no company cut-off time, it’s important to agree to a rule beforehand so nobody gets screwed (unless they want to).
4. DON’T: borrow your roommates’ stuff without asking. Seriously, this is a big one. This goes for food, shampoo, printer ink, and much, much more. College is when you start to pay for a lot of your own stuff, and the little things can add up fast.
DO: ask for permission, and remember to repay the favor. A little courtesy goes a long way, and people are less likely to let you borrow their things if you keep yours strictly off limits. Whether this means buying the next round of beers, or giving your roommates one free trip to your mini-fridge, make sure you’re being fair.
Finally, and most importantly…
5. DON’T: let stupid arguments ruin great friendships. The chances are even if you follow everything on this list, you’re still going to have at least one or two fights with your college roommates. The important thing is to make sure that you don’t let something as trivial as a dirty dish or a ripped T-shirt affect your relationship with your roomies.
DO: get involved in activities with outside people. College is a time to try new things, and joining different clubs and groups will make sure you’re not always in the same room as your roommates, which will give you all the breathing room you need.