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College Dorms: What to Expect

Managing roommates, chores and privacy in US college dorms.

Most US college dorms seem small when you consider what a large amount of time you’ll be spending there. Unless you scored a single room, that space gets even smaller when you have to share your dorm room with one, two or even three roommates.

Even if you don’t become best friends with your roommates, you want to remain on good terms. You can do that with common courtesy and constant dialogue. What seems normal to you might drive your roommate crazy, and vice versa.

Talk to Your College Dorm Roommates

Meet with your roommates soon after you move into the US college dorms to work out solutions to common concerns. A residence hall adviser will probably be able to help you resolve issues and suggest other items that should be discussed.

  • Can you play music or movies late at night? How late?
  • Can you have visitors? Overnight guests?
  • Will you have a firm time for lights-out in the bedroom? This becomes an issue if your television and computers are in the same room as your beds.
  • Can you borrow your roommates’ clothes? Music? Computers?
  • How will you decorate your room?

If you are an international student, talk to your roommates about any troubles you are having adjusting to the US. A roommate can help you navigate cultural issues, such as opening a bank account and using public transportation.

Chores in US College Dorms

Some people are tidy and others are slobs. It’s the same with roommates in US college dorms. Don’t expect your messy roommate to become a neat-freak overnight. However, you can come to some agreements about how to keep your room livable.

Even if you decide your desks can be as chaotic as you want without complaints from your roommates, that might not extend to the floor surrounding your desk. Keep those papers picked up, or at least in neat piles.

Some roommates find it helpful to keep a chart of chores posted so each person takes turns vacuuming the carpet and cleaning the toilet. Talk to your roommates about this and do what works for you.

Individual Space in US College Dorms

Give yourself room to breath. Try to find an escape away from the US college dorms. This could be a library, a coffee shop or maybe just a bench at a nearby park.

You need some time alone, and so does your roommate. Just because you live together doesn’t mean you must be attached at the hip. You don’t always (or ever) have to visit the college cafeteria together or register for the same classes. But even the best of friends need time apart!

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Having roommates can be fun or it can be a nightmare. In the course of a year, it will probably be both at times. The key to having more good times than bad in US college dorms is to ward off problems and disagreements before they start. Be honest with your roommates about what you can stand and what drives you nuts, and urge your roommates to be candid, too.

Be ready to compromise. You can’t dictate how your roommates will live, and they can’t make demands of you. With a good temper and a good sense of humor, you and your roommates will have a great year in the US college dorms.