Roommates: A Recipe for Success


Mandy Volpe
Marketing Manager
Georgia Tech Department of Housing

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Communication, roommate contracts, allotted academic spaces, and parent support are all vital elements to a harmonious roommate living situation. 

What is the recipe for success in living on campus?

Cookbooks always show a picture of what the recipe should end up looking like when the prep and cooking have finished. Cookbooks identify the big picture, and when the steps are followed closely, they lead to success. The same outlook is true for roommates in the residence hall. The big picture is a successful co-habitation that will lend well to a strong academic performance, lively social life, plenty of rest and relaxation, and a home-away from home. The question becomes what is a recipe for achieving this perfect harmony and what steps can be taken when it gets too heated or there are not equal parts of communication and conflict resolution.

1 Part Communication

There is a misconception when coming to college and moving in with a new person. The myth is that the new roommate will either be a new best friend or a complete freak. This is usually not the case. The real situation is that the two people living in the room together must learn how to coexist in a new environment. It is important for both roommates to identify ingredients for a successful room. Establishing communication before an issue ever arises sets both roommates up for success in the long run.

2 Parts Roommate Contracts

Encourage your students to utilize the roommate contract distributed by Residence Life. The roommate contract allows both roommates to specify their preferences and the non-negotiables of an ideal living arrangement. The Roommate Contract identifies ideal bedtime, study hours, preferred social activities, allergies, and cleanliness. Roommate Contracts set the groundwork for communication before problems ever become issues.

1 Part Personal Space

Each roommate may have an ideal social environment. The key for this part of the recipe is compromise and finding alternative locations for social activities. While it may be agreed upon to have friends over to the room on occasion, every single night may be excessive. Encourage your student to hang out with friends in common areas such as Resident Hall Lounges, dining halls, Student Center, or outside in the courtyard. Being flexible and respectful of the other roommate is important for a successful living environment. Finding alternative locations to be social allows the roommate to study or sleep without disturbance, no matter what time of the night it may be.

1 Part Academic Space

The main reason for being at Georgia Tech is to earn a degree. While it is important to utilize the living space to study and prepare for academic success, it is also important to utilize the many on-campus locations for ensuring a quiet study environment. Encourage your student to visit the library, study in lounge spaces, or designate specific study hours with the roommate. Keeping in mind that communication of what is needed is vital in reducing heated situations and keeping everyone happy.

2 Parts Conflict Resolution

What may work during the first week of school may need to be reevaluated mid-semester, finals week, or even at the start of a new semester. As the roommates learn more about each other and their personal quirks, the ability to continue with open communication will help each roommate enjoy their room. If conflicts arise, encourage your student to try to talk it out, mention the issue in an effort to resolve the problem, and if need be, rely on the Peer Leaders to intervene. By addressing the root of the problem and making mutually beneficial compromises, conflict can typically be solved. For example, the first week of school both roommates agreed to going to bed early. The demanding schedule of Georgia Tech has created a lack of sleep for one roommate while the other student still requires the lights off by 11:00pm. Finding a solution for both is important. The first student could compromise by studying in the lounge, library, or with a classmate on the hall. The second student could agree to lights off an hour later or maybe a face mask to block the overhead light. Addressing the problem and creating a solution can help both students feel respected and valued as roommates. 

A Heaping Dose of Parent Support

When issues arise, encourage your student to communicate with their roommate. If the issue still exists, encourage them to speak with a Peer Leader who is trained in conflict resolution and successful roommate relationships.

It would also be wise for parents to put into perspective the problem of the roommates. While cleanliness may be the problem, help your student identify if the issue is having three pieces of clothing on the floor at one time, or three days worth of clothing. Is it truly a hygiene issue or is it just a busy week and laundry has taken a back seat to study time? Parents can also help the student find solutions in dealing with the issues.

Keep in mind that students need time to adjust to the new environment. Encourage them to remain open with their communication with their roommate and enjoy all that residence life and Georgia Tech have to offer. 

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  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Sep 4, 2013 - 11:54am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:14pm