Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Get along with your roommates with these essential steps

Sophia Goedert I Photographer
Be sure to maintain open communication, healthy boundaries, and a willingness to compromise when you approach a potential new roommate situation this semester.

Sharing a room with strangers makes for a sudden lifestyle shift at the start of your freshman year, but getting along with your roommate will make for a seamless transition and a healthy living environment.

Whether you are in a rush for class in the morning or you need a quiet evening to prepare for a test, your roommate dynamic can be a make-or-break between success or added stress. A functional and communicative relationship with your roommates will be essential to sustainable living during the four years of college ahead.

Here are some effective strategies for fostering a positive environment in your room on campus:

Honor diversity
You and your roommates may come from different families, regions of the United States or even parts of the world. You may have unfamiliar life circumstances from your upbringing, education, values and beliefs. But keep in mind that as you embark on your educational pursuits at GW, you share a love for learning, the excitement for this new opportunity and the hope for a bright future. If you learn from one another about the cultures, traditions and communities you represent, you will acquire a wealth of experience that will be useful for a lifetime. You have to come to appreciate – not just merely acknowledge – the growth that bridging differences can produce.

Communicate openly
A strong rapport with roommates is grounded in a smooth flow of communication. To get to know each other well, set time to discuss your study and sleep habits and how they compare or contrast. If your habits conflict, discuss possible means of mitigation, like using dim lights at late hours of the night or wearing headphones when someone else is studying. Talk about academic and recreational interests, hobbies for relaxation and entertainment, personal preferences and pet peeves. The more you learn, the more you will know about things you have in common and activities you can do together. You will gain much-needed insight into how to avoid drama and keep each other happy.

Create schedules
Another critical aspect of a positive relationship with roommates is deciding how to split responsibilities around your room. Having a schedule of bathroom or kitchen time for your morning and evening routines can help preserve a friendly and functional atmosphere. Determining tasks for chores like cleaning the floors or taking out the garbage each week will also help. You should also decide on the times of day that are appropriate for inviting a friend to the room or having a phone conversation out loud. You can find templates for schedules online or make your own. Keep a paper copy in a place visible for everyone in addition to an electronic version on a device for quick and easy access.

Respect boundaries
Healthy relationships are built on trust, which comes from respecting boundaries, like personal space and belongings. Make sure all your roommates understand that even if you become good friends, it is not acceptable to invade or clutter someone else’s part of the room or designated area. Agree upon how to divide the room fairly, and collaborate to ensure all roommates keep their end of the bargain. Ask for permission before borrowing an item, like food, clothing or kitchen utensils, and expect the same in return. It should not be acceptable for roommates to peek at someone else’s computer, phone texts or private property. Privacy is a basic human right and should completely apply to your room.

Be ready to compromise
College life has its challenges, and living together with your peers in a small shared space is a major one. But your campus living experience will be fruitful if you’re ready to compromise. Successful residence hall life necessitates shared schedules and boundaries, but it also requires roommates to accommodate their mutual needs and be flexible about expectations. Roommate relationships will not always go according to plan, but with collaboration and compromise, you will get through any situation and finish the school year stronger than you entered it.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet