Log In

Reset Password

Respectfully Yours: College freshman must adjust to roommate

Dear Jacquelyn,

I’m a freshman in college and this is the first time I’ve had a roommate. I’m having trouble adjusting because we have drastically different social lives and study habits. Our dorm room is small and we can’t seem to get out of each other’s way. What can I do to survive living with my roommate?

Dear Reader,

First-year students like you have a lot on their minds: making new friends, navigating the campus and choosing a major.

There’s so much more to this monumental change than the hours spent in the classroom. An essential part of the college experience is learning to live away from home for the first time.

Some roommates click right away, while others take some time to develop their friendships. My advice is to go into your first year of college with an open mind and learn to accept your roommates’ differences. This is one of the first of many lessons you’ll learn in college.

As you have already found out, sharing a small dorm room can be trying at times. Establishing some basic rules will help you to be able to peacefully coexist with your roommate.

You may not meet eye-to-eye on everything, so be willing to compromise. Communication is key. If you and your roommate have clear expectations of each other, it can go smoothly. Sit down together and decide what expectations you each have for your shared space.

Not everyone’s study habits are the same. Talk with your roommate about your studying preferences. Whether you prefer the quiet retreat of a dorm room, or collaborating with a study group, you’ll need to find a place to concentrate and focus.

It’s smart and a good idea to have a variety of places to work outside of your dorm room. This will take some pressure off.

Talk to your roommate in advance when you have a big paper or exam coming up. This will help offset any possible ugly confrontations. If you aren’t able to find peace and quiet in your dorm room, perhaps you can compromise and study in the library or student union center.

As you adjust and learn about each other’s schedules, you’ll find the right combination that won’t interfere with each of your quiet time needs. Know when your roommate has to get up early for class or work. Be respectful of sleep schedules as well.

Most first-year roommate situations work out for the best. The trick is to anticipate common areas of friction and stay positive in navigating them.

Use this as an opportunity to learn responsibility, compromise and effective communication.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2022 Jacquelyn Youst