Many students will share a room or an apartment for the first time at USU. All students have high hopes for their roommates. Regardless of the roommates you get, there are some things you can do to make the most of your living situation.
First of all, it's important to realize that you will have conflicts with anyone you live with. This is normal, and it doesn’t have to be scary. Learning to manage conflict at this point in your life is a great idea, because conflict is a part of life—with life-partners, family members, coworkers, and friends. Here are a few helpful tips for getting off to a good start with your roommates:
- Set expectations from the beginning. How are you going to handle overnight guests? How often do you want to clean your bathroom? Who showers first on Mondays? Having these discussions upfront can eliminate awkwardness and passive aggression later.
- Define clean. Your definition of clean isn’t universally shared. Talk it out, and use specific examples to define what is considered “clean” to everyone in your apartment.
- Be patient. Everyone is quirky, and everyone is adapting to a new experience. If you think your roommate is really strange for hanging their towels the wrong way, they may think you are strange for never making your bed. Err on the side of patience.
- Talk it out. As hard as it can be, talking to someone face-to-face is much better than sending a text or leaving a note. That way you can read body language, assess the situation, and keep the conversation respectful. Again, these are nice skills to learn now and not, for example, when you enter the professional workforce and start working with coworkers.
- Use your resources! If you are living on campus, you have a Resident Assistant who can give you tips to talk with your roommate about issues that come up. You can also use the resources listed below, which include helpful podcasts.
- Have some empathy. Constantly ask yourself if you would like to be your own roommate. Are you swiping someone’s shower slot, or leaving an overflowing garbage? Should you send a quick text to apologize for leaving your laundry in the machine overnight? Be the best roommate you can be, and others will typically follow.
- Student of Concern Report to notify USU if you are concerned for someone’s welfare (a roommate, a friend, or even yourself)
- The Beauty of Conflict TEDX talk by USU Professor Clair Canfield
Dr. Clair Canfield and Dr. Matt Sanders discuss conflict, with particular emphasis on how college students can address conflict with roommates. These are meant to complement the Communication and Conflict Resolution workshop given during the Connections course.