Roommate Tips

Below are tips to suggest to your student about becoming acquainted with their future roommate(s):

  1. Make Contact
    Inform your student that a proper introduction sets the tone of the relationship, so once the roommate’s name and contact information arrives, encourage sending an email of introduction. If your student is brave, he or she can pick up the phone and call.
  2. Meet and Greet
    If it’s possible, encourage your student and the soon-to-be roommate to meet up before school starts. This gives them the chance to make a casual, but high-quality first impression. It also makes things a lot less awkward on move-in day, when both roommates will likely be towing parents around and breaking a sweat emptying their stuff into their new room. Plus, knowing the roommate a little beforehand means one more familiar face come fall. If distance doesn’t allow your student and their roomie to meet up, there’s always video chat, but remember to stress that looks can be deceiving, and it’s important to avoid making snap decisions the first time they meet.
  3. Keep It Real
    Tell your student to embark on roommate relationships with a positive attitude. It is not a good way to start a year of living together by deciding the roommate is a jerk from day one. The stress of the first week of college can cause people to act a little differently, so giving each other a chance to calm down and settle in before making any judgments is crucial.
  4. Don’t Get Discouraged
    Students should keep in mind that this is only the beginning of a four-year college career, and students have plenty of time to form new friendships. Roommates can turn out to be best friends or just acquaintances, but students should not let roommate relationships be the full measure of what college is going to be like.
  5. Keep an Open Mind
    If your student believes it is absolutely essential to get a sneak peek before calling or meeting the roommate in person, encourage an open mind. Facebook or Twitter pages describing a person’s likes, dislikes, and activities could date back several years, and the student just never bothered to update them. The same goes for pictures, interests, groups, and other information. Photos of a trip to Europe or a balloon ride might be a unique occurrence and not a common event, so students should not make global assumptions based on what might have been a one-time experience. Also remember that information on a person’s wall is usually meant for the benefit of a specific group of friends who can put the information into the context of the individual’s entire life, not the new “friend” who sees only what is on the wall that day.

From "Social networking: Scouting out the potential roommate." Emily Lammers from University of Minnesota.