Top Five Things You Should Discuss Now with Your College Freshman Dorm-Mate

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College bound - away from home, on your own, except for your dorm-mate. Living life with a stranger will go more smoothly if you can talk about basic expectations and needs beforehand. The new online magazine,, offers five key talking points for college students to help get off to the right start with their new dorm-mate.

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Loved the talking points. They helped me focus our talks on things that are important.

College is the first time most people live on their own for an extended period of time. Living successfully with a total stranger is more likely if some thoughtful discussions occur first.

It is a good idea for both parties to start talking about expectations right from the start. Once things are out in the open, people can negotiate compromises that are flexible and fair.

Here is a short list of topics for dorm-mates to consider talking about before they land in a 13x13-foot room for two:

Creature comforts
Start your conversation with an easy topic: what do you want in your dorm room beyond the basics? For example: lamps, chairs, music player, fridge, coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, artwork, etc. Decide what the two of you will share and who will buy each item. Then, move on to the bigger questions:

Overall expectations

  • What do you expect from your freshman roommate experience?
  • What, if any, concerns do you have regarding being and/or having a roommate?
  • Do you have any special needs or requests?

School and studies

  • What is your motivation for attending college?
  • What do you expect your attendance to your classes to be?
  • Do you prefer to study in or outside of the dorm room?
  • Can you study with music or the TV on?

Social compatibility

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  • Do you get up easily or hit the snooze button a dozen (annoying) times?
  • What are your extracurricular activities and what, if any, are your common interests?
  • Do you want to be friends with your roommate, just roommates with occasional social interaction or perhaps neither?
  • Are you comfortable with overnight guests? If so, under what conditions?
  • Do you envision your room as a place for you to relax alone or as a social gathering place?

Health and hygiene

  • Although it may be illegal, drug use, drinking and smoking of cigarettes and other substances occur on most college campuses. What are your views on these issues in and/or around your room?
  • Snoring: do you or don’t you? How will you deal with it if one of you does snore?
  • Household cleanliness: are you a Felix or an Oscar (tidy or a slob)?
  • How do you want to divide the cleaning tasks?

Bottom line
College housing departments try to match freshman college roommates; however, experiencing differences when living with another person is normal. What matters most is how you and your roommate deal with these differences.

About ( merge2gether was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Oakland, California. is an online community offering resources to guide people as they think and talk through the process of moving in with another person. The company provides free information, questions-and-answers and ideas to people of all ages and at all stages of life.

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Beverly Aabjerg
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