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Three college females chatting in their dorm room.

Living on campus is a great experience. You’re close to all of your classes, you don’t have to worry about cooking, and there’s always something going on within walking distance. However, your roommate situation can make or break your on-campus experience. Here are some tips and tricks for sharing the smallest room ever with a stranger.

Use a Roommate Finder

Living with a stranger in close quarters sounds like a nightmare, and that’s because it is. Using a roommate finder eliminates leaving anything to chance. Many colleges have Facebook groups where you can post a short blurb about yourself so you can reach out to people who might be a good fit as a roommate.

I cannot stress enough how much of a relief this was to me personally. As an early bird, I like to take my classes in the mornings and have quiet evenings in the dorm, so it was important to me to have a roommate who didn’t like to stay up super late or wouldn’t be bothered by an early alarm.

Set Boundaries

It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of dorm life and a roommate, but you must remember that you will spend almost a whole year there. You deserve to feel comfortable where you live. Setting boundaries can help both you and your roommate live together in harmony. For instance, your roommate might be comfortable sharing shampoo and shower items, but you might not be. It’s better to set those boundaries from the beginning rather than wait until they become issues and bring them up later. This will also help alleviate those passive-aggressive sticky note messages.

Other boundaries can include limiting the number of people in the dorm at one time, sharing or not sharing clothes, rules on having food in the dorm, not playing music/tv out loud after a specific time, and anything that you need to remain comfortable in the space while being respectful of your roommate.

Maximize your Space

In most dorm situations, you’ll share a small bedroom with someone. That means all you’ll have is a bed, desk, closet, and possibly a dresser if you’re lucky. It’s super important to maximize your space while being considerate that you’re sharing the room with someone else.

One way you can use your space better is by lofting your bed. This means your bed will be high enough that you can fit your desk right under your bed with room to spare. By lofting your bed, you can use that extra space where your desk once was to put a comfy bean bag chair or a mini fridge, whatever you and your roommate decide would add some comfort to the space.

Plan Ahead

We’ve all seen the TikTok and Instagram posts that are #dormgoals. Matching bedding, color coordinating décor, mood lighting, etc. That level of dorm goals requires a LOT of planning ahead.

My roommate and I were way too last minute in planning what we wanted our room to look like that by the time we figured out what we wanted, everything was sold out or would take too long to order. We figured that we would decorate later, but we never did. It was a pretty dull dorm compared to all of my friends, and I wished I had been more proactive about making our space feel cozy.

Explore Campus

Even in the best roommate situations, there will still be times when you need your space. Don’t wait until you’re desperate for peace and quiet to find it!

For me, study rooms were my saving grace. Many dorm buildings, libraries, or shared spaces have small rooms where you can focus and get work done. Even when I wasn’t doing schoolwork, eating dinner while watching a show on my laptop in peace and quiet was lovely.

By Sydney Burdick