Thursday, September 17, 2009

College Life: Good Rules Make Good Roommates

By: Robbi Hess

Description : You're off to college and you're thrilled, right? What about that heavy stone sitting in your belly about rooming with a stranger? You managed to share a room with a sibling for many years, so you can do this, right? You can with some planning and negotiation, read on for tips:

1. Food: whether in the cupboards or refrigerator - will your food share space or will it have its own? If your food isn't going to co-mingle, you're golden. If, however, your food needs to cohabitate, divide the space, and make certain you only eat what's yours - no matter how tempting that leftover Chinese food looks.

2. Who's going to clean the kitchen? Rule of thumb: you dirty it, you wash it. If necessary try to set up a timeframe of when dishes will be cleared up. You may think they need to be washed and put away within five minutes of using them, your roommate might think washing and clearing can be done within 72 hours. Compromise may be in order.

3. Overnight guests or visitors who stay until the sun comes up? Set ground rules on how long visitors are welcomed and how many visitors you want crowding the room at once. If you have a big exam and need some extra zzzz's, ask the roommate for extra consideration for an early lights out. Rules for overnight guests should be hashed out from the get-go.

4. Nothing says a good night's sleep like dead silence, right? Maybe not. If you need noise and your roommate needs silence, you may need to sleep with earphones in. Can you only fall asleep with the white noise of the television? Discuss it up front to avoid problems later.

5. Hey, that's mine! Yes, you may have a roommate who thinks nothing of borrowing your last sheet of paper, or who rummages through your drawers when they can't find a pair of clean socks. Or maybe you're the offender of that rule. Operate under the assumption that what's mine is mine, unless told otherwise. Ownership and boundary issues should be discussed up front.

Your roommate may start off as a stranger, but living in close quarters could result in a life-long friendship with careful planning and compromise.

Robbi Hess is a staff writer for the American Educational Guidance Center. She writes on higher education and continuing education topics which include online degree programs, adults returning to college, financial aid, and time management for students.

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