So, you’re my roommate? Who are you?
Advice (that you may not think about) to incoming freshmen on living with someone for the first time
Moving into a residence hall freshly out of high school can be tough. Especially if you have never lived with any a roommate prior to your first year of college. Once in college, students quickly pick up on pieces of advice but by then the advice is no longer applicable because it is too late. So, I sat down with six UA students to ask them about their experience in different residence halls to compile a short list of advice for incoming freshmen that you may not think about.
“Join all of the GroupMe’s and group messages for your hall!” -Patrick Murray, UA Junior
Murray added a good piece of advice to kick off the conversation. Being able to easily and conveniently communicate with the people on your hall can come in handy. “I’d even suggest sending memes in the chat” Murray jokes. But if people on your hallway or floor that can recognize your name as the nice or funny neighbor, it can benefit you by helping you develop a community of people that you can ask a favor of or a quickly send a question about room checks to.
“If you live with a messier person, especially in traditional-style residence halls, make sure they keep their stuff to the back of the room.”-Ella Huffaker, former Tutwiler Hall resident
Living in a traditional style dorm, Ella Huffaker advises incoming freshmen to assign “the messier roommate” the side furthest from the door. “You never want to have to step over clutter every time you enter the room”, says Huffaker. She’s right! If you and your roommate do not have compatible cleanliness characteristics and they will not clean up their side of the room, a piece of advice would be to give them the bed closest to the back of the room.
“Ask what temperature they like the thermostat set to!”-Anna Lee Thornton, Resident Advisor at Lakeside East
As an R.A., Thornton said that “literally every single” roommate dispute she has had to handle this year has been because of roommates arguing over the temperature of the room. Talking to your future roommates about your temperature preferences can save you from a lot of potential arguments in the future. “Do you like it warm, cool, or somewhere in between?” is a great question to ask prior to selecting your roommates for the upcoming fall.
“Don’t live with your best friend and expect it to be like old times.” -Luke Seale, UA Student
“I commuted to campus my freshman year, but as I got older, I decided to live with my best friends”, says Seale. Seale went on to say that though it was a fun experience, you cannot expect it to be like how things were before. Being roommates with someone is a whole different relationship than being friends with someone. Granted, you can be best friend with your roommate, but you cannot expect constant hanging out as you guys did before moving in together. You will each have your own lives and schedules and sometimes the problems that roommates face can affect the friendship. So, if you believe that you and your best friend from high school have effective enough communication then I’d say go for it, but if not then I’d recommend living with someone else to avoid the loss of a good friend.
“Living with someone I had never met before was super beneficial in helping me branch out and meet people.”-Abby Sandvos, freshman Burke Hall resident
Doing traditional-style dorms can be intimidating for freshmen, especially if they have never met their roommate beforehand. But Sandvos assures incoming freshmen that it is an “extremely humbling experience.” Sandvos also says that she has gained so much experience from meeting people she would have “never met otherwise”. Sandvos’ advice is so true. Allowing yourself to branch out of your comfort zone by meeting new people in your residence hall, can help you seamlessly socially transition in college.
“I’d recommend asking your roommate about any visitors they foresee themselves having throughout the year.” -Hannah Majors, freshman Presidential Village I resident
Majors makes a great point by offering up this piece of advice to upcoming freshmen. “My roommate’s boyfriend stays with us every week Thursday through Sunday, and it is really inconvenient because I did not sign up for four roommates. [My roommate] doesn’t even ask us before [her boyfriend] stays over for long periods of time”. Your roommate’s significant other is not your roommate too, so having that conversation with your potential roommates about how often they see themselves having visitors is crucial. And if their plans or circumstances change throughout the year, having these conversations before starting your time living together can make bringing up sticky topics easier.
While this is nowhere near a complete list of advice you should have before entering your freshman year, these six pieces of advice can get your mind turning about the types of communication that will be needed in order to solve several problems that can arise between roommates, tips for bonding with new friends, and tactics you can use to make your transition to college smoother.