When students are in college, most will have living arrangements that allow them to live in a ‘home away from home’ situation.Living on or off-campus has the advantages of independence for most students. A majority of students, regardless of where they reside, may have at least one roommate. New students as well as returning students are likely to be sharing a room with another person while attending school, while a low number of students have shared a room with a sibling at home. Not only is a loss of complete privacy an issue for some, but learning to live with another student is very new to people who are used to having the bedroom to themselves.

Students that live in a residence hall will be assigned a roommate in a double-room. Students can request a roommate if they prefer. For new students, West Chester University staff members have encouraged new students to have a roommate assigned. Having a roommate selected for students, which seems like a random selection, may help students adapt to living with someone new. This person is new too, and needs to get use to living with someone as well.

Any of the students can request one another to live with, although it has been said at several programs, including orientation, that living with one’s friend may not be the best option for a number of reasons. A pair of friends may get along when spending time together., but the same pair may face problems when living in the same room all the time.

Upperclassmen usually request a friend or acquaintance as a roommate. It is important to reside with someone that one believes they can get along with and live with. Dorm rooms serve the purposes of bedroom, study room and living room for two or more students. In traditional housing these three features are served in one large room that seems smaller when two people live in them. In the new suite- style rooms, these same functions of the room are used.

Resident Assistants (RA) are students that live in residence halls and suites with their fellow students, and are there to help students adjust to the many faces of college. This is especially important for students that may find themselves having a hard time adjusting to living away from home or having an issue with a roommate.

When living on-campus students will fill out a roommate agreement form, given to them by their RA. This form is supposed to be and should be taken seriously. The Residence Life and Housing Services has such agreements for students who are rooming together to understand each others expectations in their dorm rooms. It also will help students get to know their roommates living styles and how to work out or prevent issues.

When students read over the agreement form, think of real life situations and answer the questions honestly. Questions range from understanding a roommates’ study habits to what they like to do in their free time. This contract can set ground rules between roommates. This extends to guests, whether they be daily or overnight guests, and what each roommate is willing to do or allow or not allow. Students can ask if one is dating or likes to have friends come over to the room. Find out if they plan on spending the night. In the agreement discuss when it is okay or preferred not to have a guest over.

Roommates need to be understanding of each other. Living with someone that one is meeting for the first time at school is full of unknowns and uncertainties.

Roommate agreements have a section about what possessions or food a roommate is willing and not willing to share. Roommates that requested each other for on-campus housing are required to fill out a form too. These students need to take the time to talk about the same issues as if they were just meeting and finding out about one another’s habits and preferences. Students who are living off-campus can follow the same process without filling out any forms. Talk to roommates in an open discussion to find out what they expect from their roommates and themselves. If roommates find themselves having issues in their living situations, they can seek their RA to talk to and refer back to their agreement on how they proposed to handle the matter. One has to talk to their roommate in case of problems in hopes to prevent the conflict from increasing and this lets roommates know of a problem that they may not have realized was occuring. If the problem comes to the point where roommates feel that they can no longer live together, they can talk to their RA about moving into a dorm room that is available. Open beds may be found in a dorm or suite other than the one the student has been residing in. If one does move into a different room, they should talk to their new roommate about the same key subjects on how they propose to get along living with each other.

Possible questions to ask a roommate include the following:

* Ask about study and school work habits.

* What time will roommates get up in the morning/ go to bed at night?

* Ask about interests in music, movies, books, etc.

* Ask what appliances each roommate will bring, such as the television, microwave, refrigerator, etc.

* What foods/ possessions/ clothes are roommates willing to share?

* What does one do for leisure?

* Ask about overnight guests and when friends can come over.

* Find out what a roommate plans on doing with their weekend. Tell roommates if one plans to spend the night out or go home for the weekend.

*Talk about previous roommates, what one liked or disliked involving living situations if it will help roommates get along.

* Ask if roommates drinks or smokes, converse further if need be.

* What are the household chores one prefers to do?

By talking matters out first with roommate agreement forms or as a social contract, students may find themselves in a better living environment than if they were unsure about how ones roommate would like to live. Communication is crucial to living with a friend as a roommate and living mates.

Ginger Rae Dunbar is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.

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