Student Life

The roommate decision — 5 questions for your student

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By Evanne Montoya

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High School Parent | College Parent

Choosing a roommate can feel like a high-stakes game of musical chairs. No one wants to be left out, but grabbing the first chair you see may lead to an uncomfortable semester or two. Whether your student picked a prospective roommate months ago or is still struggling with the choice, these five questions can help you have a constructive conversation about what’s most important.

1.    Did you consider a variety of people?

A roommate doesn’t have to be your student’s best friend. A classmate she clicked with, a fellow club leader, or someone in her friend group who she’s always wanted to spend more time with can all make fantastic roommates. Encourage your student to think outside the box so she doesn’t overlook a great match.

2.    Are your housing goals compatible?

If your student and her potential roommate want very different residential experiences next year (one dreams of an off-campus house with multiple roommates, the other is set on a quiet suite for two in the dorms) it may not be worth it to cave, no matter how close their friendship.

3.   Is she responsible?

College is challenging enough — why add an irresponsible roommate to the mix?  Your student should room with someone who she can be confident will remember to lock the door behind herself, turn off the stove before she leaves, and pay rent and utilities on time.

4.    Do you have similar habits and routines?

Remind your student to consider sleep habits, schedule, study needs, mess tolerance, willingness to share food, etc. Compatibility doesn’t mean that two people are twins separated at birth, but it helps if differences are in areas where it’s easy to make a comfortable compromise. For example, a student who needs silence to study can successfully room with a music major if they take turns using the library and a practice room, allowing both equal opportunity to work in their living space.

5.    Is it easy to talk things over with her?

Most differences can be resolved if both students are willing to discuss what they need and make some sacrifices to reach a fair solution. Does your student feel comfortable being direct with her potential roommate? If yes, there are few things they can’t work out.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from  fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

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