What if I don’t like my roommate?

Starting college is a completely new time in your life that comes with a lot of unknowns and questions. Did I choose the right school? Is my major the right fit for me? What if I don’t like my roommate? While these questions are valid, there is no need to worry. Instead, remember you are not the first student to have these concerns. There are people and processes in place to help you succeed in college, whether in the classroom or in the residence halls! Let’s take a closer look at the question: What if I don’t like my roommate?

What is the benefit of having a roommate?

Sharing a room or living with a roommate may be a new experience. It might be the first time you’ve had to compromise and/or advocate for yourself regarding sharing space.

“I believe this is an essential life skill that many students need to learn. Conflict, in and of itself, is not negative. How people deal with conflict is what can make it positive or negative,” explained Stephen Burrell, director of residence life at Bluffton University.
To learn more, read our blog post on the the benefits of living in a residence hall.

How are roommates assigned?

Students may request to be roommates for many reasons. Maybe you grew up together, are related, met one another at orientation and “clicked” or connected through social media.

Or you may be paired with a roommate by residence life staff who use surveys that you fill out to match you with someone.
To learn more, read our blog post on how colleges match first-year roommates.

Should I room with somebody I already know?

That’s your choice. Both ways can produce incredibly successful roommate pairings. However, neither way guarantees a successful roommate experience. The key to a positive roommate relationship is communication.

What are some common causes of roommate conflict?

  • Cleanliness of the room
  • Sharing/borrowing of clothes, food or other items
  • Touching or moving a roommate’s stuff or having guests who use the roommate’s stuff/space
  • Sleep/wake schedules
  • Talking loudly on the phone or using speaker phone

What are roommate agreements?

One way residence life staff encourages open communication is with roommate agreements. “This can help cover issues/areas that are important to you and typically cause conflict,” said Burrell. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed over the past ten years in residence life is that students would prefer to avoid conflict and don’t want to address issues up front. Little irritants that occur in the beginning of the year are overlooked. Then, around midterms when the stress level is already high, students come to the residence life staff with issues.”

What are my options if I still don’t like my roommate?

First, have you shared your frustrations with your roommate?

Residence life staff members are trained in helping facilitate these conversations in a constructive way through a process called mediation.

“We try to allow the residents to share their concerns and to frame it with I statements to give each party the opportunity to share one at a time. The goal is to understand the other person and not to only be understood. Our hope in assisting students through this process is that both roommates will participate in good faith to listen, understand, share and then seek to compromise and develop agreements for being able to live together. At minimum, we hope to restore civility and respect while giving students tools they can use to sit down and have discussions to talk through conflict situations themselves in the future.”

Can I live in a single room?

Students typically don’t like having these open conversations and will instead ask, “Can I move to a single room?” After trying mediation, sometimes the answer is yes. However, you are more likely to be paired with a new roommate. Single rooms may not be available, you may need to move out of a building you otherwise enjoy or a single room could cost too much.

Thoughts from current college students…

I feel like there’s a huge misconception that you and your roommate need to be best friends. That isn’t always the case, and that’s okay! —Haley B.

If you are especially worried about this topic, make sure you fill out the survey with your hobbies, interests and lifestyle so residence life can better match you with a roommate. —Caitlyn R.

Roommate trouble does happen, but residence life has a process that will try to help settle whatever issues could be going on. —Jeremy L.

Learning to live with a stranger can be wonderful, and you may make a lifelong friend. —Alejandra V.

The bad situations I have seen with roommates have been entirely because of communication. Make sure you are talking to your roommate. —Amy M.

At Bluffton University…

The Bluffton University community extends far beyond the classroom. With more than 60 student organizations, 18 athletic teams, and dozens of ways to experience the arts and spiritual life, you will find your place.

As a residential campus, most students live in one of our six residence halls. This creates a close-knit atmosphere where students, live, learn and grow in community. Fellow students serve as support staff, resident advisors and ministry assistants. Juniors and seniors often choose to live in Neufeld Hall, which features suite-style accommodations with large lobbies, or Riley Court Apartments. The apartments feature a full kitchen, laundry facilities and a spacious common area in each unit.

Now that you’re ready to live with a roommate, check out these helpful tips for moving into your room while dealing with anxious parents.