Roommate Etiquette

Think back: when you’re about to start college, all you can think about is who your roommate is going to be for the next year.  By that time, you’ve heard all of the roommate horror stories.  But there’s no need to worry!  Although you may not become BFF’s with your roommate—which is perfectly okay—you’ll have the best possible college experience if you can get along with your roommate. There are a few simple Do’s and Don’ts of roommate etiquette to follow in order to successfully have a great relationship with your roommate.  Remember, you have to live with this person for an entire year so it’s better to establish the best possible relationship!


Sleeping is very important and is so limited in college.  Don’t ruin those sacred hours of sleep for yourself or your roommate!


  • Establish a sleep schedule.  In order to do this, have a conversation with your roommate about when your classes are and when the both of you will be sleeping.
  • Be courteous in the morning.  If you wake up before your roommate does and need some lighting, turn on a lamp instead of the main light.


  • If you happen to be awake before your roommate, don’t make loud noises.  For example, if you want to make a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, stop the microwave before the annoying beep sounds.  Your roommate might mistake it for an alarm and wake up.
  • If you come home at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. after a night out and your roommate is sleeping, don’t make loud noises.  Some loud noises include talking to friends, loud music, and TV.  Always use headphones!

What’s Mine is Yours…Kind of


Food is the first thing to discuss in terms of sharing. Whether you have an absurd amount of junk food to indulge in or nutritious snacks to stay healthy, food is private property until told otherwise.


  • Do have a conversation about what food is for sharing.  Establish what foods follow the “what’s mine is yours” policy and which foods clearly don’t.  It is okay to tell your roommate that some food is specifically for you and not to be shared, don’t be shy.
  • If you so happen to eat a lot of your roommate’s food and finish it, a nice gesture would be to offer to reimburse her.  This is not something you must do, but it is nice and it shows your roommate that you care.


  • Don’t let your friends eat your roommate’s food.  This may not seem like an issue, but if you have five friends in your room and they’re all going through your roommate’s food, the majority of it will be gone in a matter of minutes.  Now your roommate doesn’t get to enjoy the food she brought for herself.


Sharing clothes should always discussed.  Not every girl is going to be okay with sharing her wardrobe.  There is a simple rule when it comes to apparel: ask if you want to borrow something, if your roommate says no, the answer is no.  Don’t hesitate to say no to your roommate. It’s not worth something happening to your favorite dress just because you couldn’t be honest with her.


No one wants to live in a dirty room…


  • Do try and keep your side of the room clean.  It is the respectable thing to do.  Make your bed, pick up your clothes, etc.
  • If your roommate’s side of the room is messy, don’t be afraid to nicely ask her to clean up a little.  Honesty is the key to any successful roommate relationship.


  • Don’t try and clean your roommate’s side of the room for her.  It is an invasion of her personal stuff and is also insulting to her.


Did any of you have that friend in high school that when she filled out her college roommate survey, she clicked the box “all the time” when it asked, “Do you plan on having a lot of sleepovers?” My friend did that, but it’s not what you think – she naively thought this meant there would be some good ‘ol fashioned slumber parties with her girlfriends.


  • Establish rules about sleepovers — decide when it is okay (if ever) to bring someone back to your room. 
  • Regardless of if you are bringing boys or girls back to your room, it is always nice to let your roommate know in advanced so she’s not shocked to find other people in her room.


  • Don’t bring anyone back without telling your roommate. This can make for a very awkward situation when your roommate is caught off guard when she walks into her room.
  • If you happen to have friends over for the night, don’t stay up too late and do control your noise level.  Your roommate might have to wake up early for something the next morning and you don’t want to disturb their sleep.


These basic guidelines should get you through a successful year.  Just remember to be honest with each other! Good luck collegiettes!

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