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Signing a College Roommate Contract

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Whether you're used to sharing a bedroom with a sibling or getting a roommate for the first time, living with someone else in a dorm is a whole new ball game. It's important to set boundaries before moving in to keep things civil throughout the year. You'll thank yourself later.

printable college roommate checklist

Your school is likely to have a set of rules for you to follow, but these don't cover everything that might come up between roommates. To help iron out some of these details, you should be given the opportunity to fill out a roommate contract. Use this printable to help lay down the ground rules for your new room.

1. Read over the contract and sign it together

If you all sign the roommate contract, it'll act as proof later on -- either to each other or to your Resident Assistant.

The contract will hold you and your roommate accountable should a dispute arise. For example, if a roommate repeatedly violates a rule, you can bring the contract to your RA for mediation. If the problem continues to progress, the contract can be used to support more aggressive action against the rule-breaker. If things really aren't working out, you can use this to your advantage and get assigned a new roommate.

2. Have a chore schedule ahead of time

Decide on chores ahead of time, so one roommate isn't picking up the slack. It can change weekly or monthly. It can even stay the same for the whole year. The important part is making sure every roommate has an equal amount of work -- otherwise, you're breeding resentment.

3. Set a list of rules and stick to them

You may not be living with a roommate similar in personality or socialness. This may make it hard to connect with your roommate. Some great things to discuss are:

  • When quiet/study time starts
  • What cleanliness means
  • When guests are allowed in the room
  • If you'll allow guests to stay overnight
  • Whether you will share all or some of the groceries and snacks
  • What dorm essentials you plan on sharing (microwave, TV, etc.)
  • What else is open for sharing (your closet, )
  • If you mind the windows open
  • If you are okay with smoking and drinking
  • If pets are allowed

Remember this is where the both of you live now, so you don't want things to be awkward!

How to be a good roommate

If you're a good roommate, the chances that your roommate will be a good one too are much higher. Here are some qualities of a good roommate:

  • Good communication skills: Talk to your roommate about your expectations. If you're having a problem with something your roommate is doing, it's best to discuss it with them (in a calm and mature manner).

  • Trustworthy: You should be someone your roommate can trust. You should both be confident that you would treat each other and each other's space and belongings with respect. You shouldn't have to worry about leaving your roommate alone in your room.

  • Friendly: Whether you're best friends or not, you should be able to treat each other with civility. If you enjoy each other's company, your school year will be a lot better.

  • Considerate: Everybody would want their roommate to be considerate of them. Don't blast your music while your roommate is studying and help keep your room clean.

How to handle a bad roommate

If, despite your best efforts, you end up in a bad roommate situation, most schools offer you a way out. Generally, you'll have to fill out some paperwork and have all parties involved sign it. There may also be a deadline for room switching.

If all else fails, you may need to just tough it out until the semester or school year is through. Find a friend you can stay with if tensions are running particularly high.

In most cases, rooming with someone you don't know is a adjustment. However, a lot of times, people develop life-long friendships with their roommates. Whatever the case, you're sure to learn a lot about yourself and living with other people.

Kelly Martini  Posted by Kelly Martini on December 20, 2018

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