From Our Readers Surviving College: Setting Ground Rules From Our Readers

I’ve heard a lot of people say that college sophomores are the worst because they think they know everything. Well, I’m a sophomore and I can promise you that I know I don’t know everything. Honestly, I feel like I know nothing. I am still learning how college works, but now that I’m through with my first week of classes, I am willing to share with you what I’ve figured out.

First things first. You need to set ground rules with the people you’re living with. Whether you are a returning student living with friends (like me) or a freshman living with strangers, it is important to know what your roommate(s) expects from you.

Freshman year, I lived in a suite with three girls that I didn’t click with. We were cordial, but I knew we would never stay friends once the year ended. Because of that I was afraid to speak up. This led to small parties in my room and my roommate being on Skype until five in the morning. There were times I slept through my morning class just because I was afraid to tell my suitemates to be quiet while I was trying to sleep. I was also afraid to speak up when it came to cleaning our private bathroom and I was too scared to tell them to turn down their music when I was studying. It got to the point where I spent every free moment in a friend’s dorm and had to clean the bathroom by myself every week.

That is why it is important to set ground rules. You don’t want to be like me! Things are different this year and these are my rules for happy dorm living:

1.  Tell your roommate when you like to sleep. Let them know if you are a morning person or a night person. You should also tell them if you are a heavy sleeper or light sleeper.

2.  When your roommate is asleep, be respectful. Use earbuds when watching or listening to something. Leave the room if you want to talk with friends (all buildings usually have a common room, and if you live in a suite you probably have your own common room).

3.  Make a chore chart. (This only applies if you have a private bathroom and common area. If you live in a standard double-occupancy dorm, then you should each be responsible for your own side.) Figure out who will clean the floors, the toilet, the sinks, the windows, etc. Make sure one person isn’t stuck cleaning for everyone!

4.  Have a code or plan if one of you needs alone time with a date. Hang socks or ponytails on the door or write a message on the whiteboard. Having a code avoids any potential awkwardness for everyone! You should also have a plan if you get sexiled. Sleep in a common room or friend’s dorm. Better yet, don’t have random hook-ups in college. You’ll regret them eventually.

5.  Know who is buying what. This is more than just who brings the TV and who brings the mini-fridge. You should split the costs of everything you share. This includes cleaning supplies, printer paper and ink, and even milk. Don’t rip your roommate off, and don’t charge them for something they don’t use.

It’s hard to truly enjoy college if you aren’t happy with your living situation. That’s why you need to make sure you and your roommate(s) are on the same page. It will seriously make everyone’s time at college more fun!

by Chelsey Falco


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  1. Very fitting for my current situation… I’m a freshman and I’m trying to decide how strict to be with my roommate who Skypes until 3 or later most nights, including the ones before my 8:00 class. (She, of course, doesn’t have class until noon…)

  2. EXACTLY what i needed!