Sidelines Guidelines: 5 tips to be a good roommate

Corlew is one of two dorms on campus that houses only freshman (Devin P. Grimes/MTSU Sidelines).

Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

Barely into the new school year, many students find themselves living away from their parents for the first time in their lives. While some may live in an apartment or a house with friends, many are living with a roommate, some of whom were complete strangers just a few days ago.

Having a roommate for the first time can be daunting, especially if you have never met the person. Some people get lucky and are paired with someone they have a lot in common while others end up with their polar opposite.

Whether you and your roommate are a perfect match or complete mismatch, here are five tips you can use to be a good roommate now and in the future.

Make contact ahead of time

This one is mainly for those who are paired randomly, as it gives you a chance to get to know the person before you move in. When roommate pairs are created, the housing staff will typically send an email to each roommate with contact information, such as a phone number or a valid email address.

Use them to your advantage and contact your roommate ahead of time to learn valuable intel about who you’ll be living with. This can include anything from what their hobbies are and what they like to eat, to things like pet peeves and general hygiene.

While it can be a little nerve-racking, contacting your roommate ahead of move-in day is something that can prepare you for dorm life.

Take ownership of your space

When splitting a dorm, it’s relatively easy for you to keep your half of the room clean. At least, one would think that.

As mentioned before, this may be the first time for many students to be living on their own, without parents to clean up after them. It’s vitally important to not only keep your half of the room clean, but to also keep your mess from becoming your roommate’s mess as well.

This means that when the pizza boxes are almost as tall as you are, you probably should take those to the dumpster outside of your building. Bottom line, part of being a good roommate is taking ownership and responsibility for the space in which you live and treating it with the utmost care.

Know your boundaries

This can be anything from cleanliness and hygiene to general respect from roommate to roommate.

If your roommate strives to keep their side of the room clean, but is constantly having to toss your laundry to your side of the room, that means they are working twice as hard to keep the area you both inhabit clean while you let the dirty clothes pile up.

Another example is if your roommate has an early class and goes to bed before you do, be courteous. Instead of watching Netflix on your television, plug some headphones into your laptop and watch your show that way.

Overall, boundaries are important because they help each of you to know when a change needs to be made to make the other more comfortable in the dorm room.

Talk to each other

The option to move out is available at any time, but one key component to getting along is simply communicating with one another.

While this includes getting to know each other, it’s most important for resolving any conflicts that may arise. One of the worst things you can do when you have a problem or even an argument with a roommate is let it sit and fester without discussing it.

The main effect this has is the precedent it sets for the future. The next time a similar conflict arises, you have a better understanding of what the other person is thinking, and you can handle it better than the previous incident.

Have fun

This is the most important of all. You are in college, and this will be one of the most enjoyable times of your life. When you get your first roommate, take it as an opportunity to make a new friend.

Go to dinner or to the recreation center or even just play video games together. The more you interact with a person, the more you get to know them and the better friends you can become.

These may not be the only keys to being a good roommate, but if you use them you are well on your way to being a good roommate. While there’s still time to make a first impression, do everything in your power to make a good one.

For more Sidelines Guidelines, click here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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