Living With a Roommate your First Year at Williams

Going to college is a time for new experiences and lots of learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. For many students, college will be the first time they will have to share a room with someone else. For other students who have had to share rooms with family members prior to heading off to school, college may be the first time they will have to share their room with a complete stranger.

After recent events at the University of Hartford in which a student harassed her roommate into switching rooms by making living conditions for her so miserable, living with a roommate may seem extremely intimidating.

While those of you at Williams who have either lived in a Mission or Frosh Quad single may read scenarios like this and thank your lucky stars for opting out of having a roommate, it is important to acknowledge that not every roommate story has to be terrifying, and that living with a roommate can actually be a great experience. Here are some things First-Years at Williams had to say about what living with a roommate is like, and some helpful advice from JAs who are always there to help resolve any roommate conflicts that may arise over the year.


Q: In three words how would you describe living with a roommate so far?

A: “Fun, easy, memorable”

B: “Pleasant, companionable, friendly”

C: “Okay, toleration, descent”


Q. What are some of your favorite things about having a roommate?

A: “Just having someone to come home to. It’s a built-in friend, and if they make friends, you can share them!”

B: “Being able to get meals with someone, and having someone to just check in on me.”


Q. How important is feeling comfortable with your roommate?

A: “Pretty important. You don’t need to share everything with each other, but you need to be able to share the space, and part of that is feeling comfortable in your room with your roommate also present.

B: “Your dorm should serve as a safe space where you can be free. You cannot do that if you are uncomfortable around your roommate.”


Q: What would you say to someone experiencing roommate troubles right now?

A: “Relax! Even if you're living with someone you don't like, it's not the end of the world. Be civil with each other and treat everyone how you'd like to be treated.”

B: “If you’re experiencing troubles but are both open to dialogue and compromise, you’ll probably be able to resolve it.”

C: “Assume best intentions. If there’s an ongoing pattern of maliciousness or disrespect that’s one thing, but if your roommate has been snippy all week they might just be really stressed and need some space.”


Q: Favorite roommate memory so far?

A: “Twinning with my roommate for Halloween.”

B: “One night we ordered Blue Mango takeout and sat on the floor together, sipping bubble tea. It felt so wholesome and lovely”

C: “Making a Spotify playlist together.”

D: “Playing soccer together.”


Q: What advice do you have for someone who is applying to Williams and considering applying to live in a double?

A: “DO IT! You have three other years to live alone. It’s the classic college experience to live with someone.”

B: “I don’t want to say “hope for the best, plan for the worst,” because you don’t need to come in with all your contingency plans set up. Rather, the most important thing is that you need to be flexible and respectful (of yourself and your roommate). Roommate situations can go quite awry and sometimes they don’t work out, but when they do it’s really nice to have someone to talk with when you’re tired, commiserate with over early mornings, and lean on if you’re having a rough week.”

C: “Living in a double allows you to have someone (a first person away from home) which can be beneficially and helpful for transitioning to college.”


Q: As a JA, what solutions would you give someone who is having a difficult roommate experience?

A: Communication is always key!! Hopefully your roommate would also be willing to make the year-long living situation work, will also want to have good and honest conversations, and would be willing to change a couple of things to make it work.


If you are an incoming Williams student debating between requesting a single or a double, I hope this article helped you make your decision in whatever way seems best for you. Personally, I love having a roommate and I am very fortunate to have been matched with someone whose personality is so similar to mine. Even though my roommate and I are very close, having a roommate does not necessarily mean you have to be best friends. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and happy in your shared space.


If you are having roommate issues at the moment, maybe take some of the advice given above. Reach out to a counselor, JA, peer, or other sources of support available at your college.