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Choosing a Roommate

Coming to college, living with a roommate was something I was apprehensive about, but for me, it has turned out to be a really positive experience. It’s nice to always have someone there to talk to or share snacks with or wake you up for your 8:40 class when you sleep through your alarm. 

It’s getting to be that time of year when people have to decide who they’re going to live with for the next year. Choosing who you’re going to live with is a big deal. For first years, this is the first time we will be making that choice. I am lucky that, because things have worked out with my current roommate so well, we decided to live together again. But, I’ve seen lots of my friends having to make the decision and try to figure out who would be best to live with. 

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It’s such a hard decision because being a good roommate is different than just being friends. I know I have friends who I wouldn’t be able to room with, simply because we have different habits and lifestyles. It’s also important that you feel able to honestly communicate about what you both need. When someone’s a friend and roommate, as opposed to just a roommate, it can be easy to give them a free pass when it comes to small annoyances—maybe you like you’re room at different temperatures. But these can build up over time, especially because they’re exacerbated by the fact that the space you’re sharing is so small. Friendships can be ruined when people try to live together when it isn’t natural and there is insufficient communication—I’ve seen it happen to high school friends who went to colleges where they were allowed to choose their freshman year roommates. 

So what can you do about this, to ensure living with your new roommate will go well? I think it’s super important to establish expectations before you decide to room with someone next year and make sure you will be on the same page. Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean a roommate contract isn’t a good idea. It’s important to establish your expectations for when and how often your room will be a social space and when it will be a study space. It’s also important to remember that it's okay to say no! I wouldn’t want someone to agree to room with me, who didn’t think it would work out, just because we were friends. Kenyon being such a small school, you’re still going to see your friends all the time whether or not you’re living in the same room. 

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Being able to get along with someone different than you, learning to make compromises, and problem-solving are really important life skills that college, and specifically living with a roommate, can teach you, but there’s no reason to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Especially in college when you have so little space that’s truly your own, it’s important that you’re living space is one where you feel truly comfortable and at ease. Luckily, open, honest, and upfront communication can prevent many of these problems from arising.