Helping Your Student Navigate Life With Roomates

Whether your student chooses a dormitory on Florida State University campus or FSU off-campus housing, living with roommates can be very challenging. Especially in college where students have been used to being at home their whole lives. This is likely your Nole’s first time being put in this new situation, and as a parent, it's important to be as supportive as possible. Living with roommates is an important life skill, and this article will give you tips on how to help your FSU student adjust to this new challenge. With the right preparation, you can help your student navigate apartment life with roomies, so the group can create a positive, happy living environment.

Finding Roommates

The first step in navigating life with roommates is deciding who you are going to live with. This can be a huge decision for students and a great opportunity to meet new friends. While choosing people there are many factors to consider such as finding an apartment with the amenities and proximity to campus within everyone's budget. Students can meet potential roommates in many scenarios such as class, student organizations, or even Greek Life. It can be a great college experience to live with your friends with similar values. Do keep in mind, not all friends make the best roommates. Your student’s best friend might be a great choice for a mid-day study date or Friday night trip to College Town, but if that friend doesn’t have the same level of cleanliness or a similar sleep schedule rooming together may not be a good idea.Two Girl Roommates on Hanging Out on the Couch and Doing Homework

If your student decides to live with roommates they don't know there are great options for that too. You’ll find that most of the student housing communities around FSU offer roommate matching programs. This process will involve your student filling out a questionnaire that includes things like major, values, sleep patterns, noise/party preferences, and more. Our best advice is for you to take a step back and allow your student to fill out this form in privacy to allow for the most honest answers and the best match.

It is important to note that in a roommate matching situation, the apartment will be leased individually, by-the-bedroom. This means that you and your student will only ever be responsible for your portion of the monthly rent and utilities. If one of the matched roommates fails to pay the rent, it will not reflect on you or your student’s rental history and there will be no risk of losing the apartment. Each roommate will be treated as a separate party renting each individual room.

Roommate Etiquette

Teaching your student the basics of how to be a good roommate can be one of the best ways to help them avoid conflict with the people they are living with. Some of the information may seem obvious, but it can't hurt to go over especially if it's the students' first time being on their own. One of the most important aspects of roommate etiquette is just common courtesy and always thinking of the next person. The golden rule fully stands true, it's as simple as treating others the way you would want to be treated.

Here are some common courtesies you should review with your student:

  1. Take Clothes Out Washer and Dryer While Doing Laundry
  2. Take The Trash Out When Its Full
  3. Listen To Others’ Issues
  4. Don’t Borrow Without Asking
  5. Give Personal Space
  6. Clean Up Your Own Mess
  7. Be Respectful About Guests

Before Move-In Day

With today’s technology, it’s easy to get in touch and start a conversation with your student’s future roommates before move-in day! One of the best ways to kick-off the relationship is to have your student reach out to the roommates in advance to start a group conversation (try an app like GroupMe or linking up in Instagram or Facebook DM’s). The roommates can get to know one another and discuss things like décor and who is bringing what on move-in day – that way, you won’t end up with 3 kitchen trash cans and 2 sets of patio furniture!

On Move-In Day

Move-in day can be chaotic! All of the roommates show up with their families, and the apartment will be bustling with everyone moving in boxes, cleaning, and organizing. Here are some ideas to help get the conversation moving amongst the roomies:

  • Try showing up on move-in day with coffee and donuts! We guarantee everyone will be thankful for a caffeine and sugar boost after carrying boxes upstairs.
  • Remember, you don’t have to get your student 100% moved in and organized all in one day, they can continue to get set up after you leave! Take your time, and encourage your student to take breaks to greet each roommate as soon as they arrive.
  • Keep conversation moving when it comes to organizing the common spaces. Look for opportunities to help resolve potential conflict and help start those conversations. For example, if there are 4 roommates and 4 shelves in the pantry, you might suggest each student claims a shelf for their personal pantry items. 

Roommate Written Agreement

A roommate agreement is a written contract among tenets to set ground rules for the year. Students should bring this up with their roommate shortly after moving in. The contract will go over many common issues and both roommates should sign after they have discussed the contents. There are many templates free online for roommate agreements.

What should you include in a roommate contract? Start with this list!

  1. Dividing Chores and Responsibilities
  2. Being loud (partying)
  3. Different sleep schedules
  4. Borrowing Personal Items
  5. Issues with guests
  6. Disagreements over bills
  7. Quiet Hours
  8. Cleaning Schedule

The roommate agreement is a great tool to use if/ when a conflict ever arises. Students and their roommates can refer back to the document and make compromises.

Download and Print The Roommate Agreement


How to Deal with Conflict

When people live together conflict is usually inevitable, but it's more important to focus on how they handle the problems as they arise. Angry voices and slammed doors are never the solution and will always make the situation worse. Conflict is not even necessarily a bad thing because it teaches important life skills. Healthy communication is key because issues will become toxic if they are not brought up in a timely fashion.

Help your student think of examples of problems that may come up then discuss solutions on how to handle them. Try these quick tips for handling roommate conflict:
 

  • You should always confront the person directly, so the communication doesn't come from another roommate.
  • Remember to cool off before discussing issues and go into the conversation with the intention to be kind and open-minded.
  • Be clear in communicating the issue and seek a resolution that satisfies both parties. 

Remember, your student doesn’t need to be BFF’s with their future roommates, but communication and respect is key!

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