Unless you are a single child, you probably are well aware of the various aspects of living with a roommate, at least to a certain extent. Even if you haven’t actively shared a room with a sibling during your childhood, at the very least you’ve shared a house with them and therefore have a general feel for what it would be like sharing the same bedroom. College roommates are significantly different though, which is what we will discuss today.

To start, college roommates are typically strangers when you first meet them. Colleges nowadays are especially making sure that roommate assignments are random meaning that even if you have a high school friend going to the same college as you, you are not going to even be in the same dormitory, let alone the same room. This is obviously not the case all the time, but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb, and the assumption we are making when it comes to your college roommates.

So while sharing a room or a house or whatever the case may be with a sibling is much more natural due to the fact that you actually have known them for years, living with a roommate presents its own challenges, beginning with the uncertainty involved with your roommates living habits, let alone their general personality. You don’t know if he or she snores while they sleep, or if they are a party-goer that will invite people to the room for drinking or other hangouts. And you don’t know if he or she is an absolute jerk. All of this can potentially be problematic, and if you are unlucky enough to be stuck with a less than ideal roommate, it can potentially ruin your college experience (at least for the one year that the two of you are living together).

So how can you make the most of a potentially bad roommate? Well to start, you need to create an open channel for communication. If you can’t even talk to your roommate, there is no way to resolve any issues that may come about. So even if you don’t like your roommate in the slightest, it is important to find common ground and at the very least be on speaking terms with them.

Once you have established this connection with them, you can use that open channel of communication to bring forth any problems you may have with them. However, make sure that you don’t do this in a confrontational way, otherwise you end up making them upset and unwilling to create a solution to the problem. When having these sorts of dialogues, the focus should always be on compromise rather than getting what. You two are both sharing the same room and have equal stake in the comfort and enjoyment of your residence together. If you force an issue to get only what you want, that will only make your roommate resent you even more, making things worse in the long-run.

Now for some fairly common roommate conflicts, there are already well-defined solutions that you should definitely rely on. And as always, as a last resort you can bring up any significant issues with the dormitory staff and let them help facilitate a solution. While getting the dormitory staff involved does often result in changing roommates completely as part of the solution, it is obviously much better than trying to live with someone who is only making your life miserable.

College is a time for self-discovery and living life to the fullest before you enter the real world. If you happen to be stuck with a less than ideal roommate, it is imperative that you work to resolve any issues that may be taking away from the positive experience that should be associated with the college lifestyle. On the other hand, if you do happen to end up with a fantastic roommate, be sure to cherish the time you have together and savor every moment. In any case, having a roommate (good or bad) in college is a unique and often overlooked experience that will be assuredly be something to remember in the long-run!