College Advice Blog

Mar 16, 2012

Top 5 Strategies for Dealing With Your Crazy College Roommate

Some people are incredibly lucky when it comes to college roommates. They win the lottery, and randomly get placed with someone who becomes a lifelong friend. Or they work the system to get shacked up with a good buddy they went to high school with. Others...well, others are like you. Living in misery because you're stuck with an insane roommate. Maybe you don't see eye to eye on issues of cleanliness. Maybe your idea of a solid weeknight is a couple hours of studying and catching up on shows with a friend, while his involves drinking games and exploding fruit. Whatever your issues, have no fear. There are methods for resolving your uncomfortable living situation, and living together in peace and prosperity. Here are our top 5 strategies you can use to deal with your crazy college roommate.

  • Set your boundaries. Your parents set boundaries, your girlfriend does as well. So it's time for you to set living boundaries with your crazy roommate. You may not want to, but you have to talk this stuff out. Don't nitpick, but make sure you handle all the biggest issues that really get your goat. Once you've cleared the air, get it all down in writing. If he's not willing to agree to some ground rules, the two of you might drive each other to a mental institution before the semester is up.
  • Create the space. You don't have to bust out the chalk and draw a line down the center of the room, but rearranging the space to more clearly define things may be a smart move. Think about where your bed and desk are placed, and reorganize so that you have your own section. If you're a neat freak and he's a disaster, seeing your half of the room in gleaming perfection and his half collecting mold may be enough for him to change his behavior.
  • Fix a schedule. You can figure out ways to bug each other less if you have a well-defined schedule. Maybe you need to divide the nights into 'yours' and 'his', so that you each get to call the shots for half the week. But you most definitely need to set a cleaning schedule. If you guys disagree about how often cleaning needs to happen, setting a schedule that meets in the middle takes it out of debate and makes it real. You won't have to argue about it every week, but just accept what the schedule says is necessary.
  • Find your own inner perfect roommate. Sometimes leading by example is the smartest move. Your roommate may be crazy, but that doesn't mean you are perfect. Take a look at what you can do to go the extra mile for your roommate. Whether it's buying a few extras at the store to share, or doing his cleaning once without being asked, looking at little things you can do to be a better roommate will show him that you're willing to change as well. That may help him give up the fight and meet you half way. But at the very least, you'll be growing as a person.
  • Move. If all else fails, you can always pack up and go. Most colleges will allow a roommate transfer if you can show that you're with someone that absolutely isn't working out. Your sanity is more important than your geographic location, so look into options for other dorm situations. On the less drastic side, take your studying to the library, or meet friends at their place instead. You can't completely give up the room to Mr. Crazy, but taking some time apart to calm the arguments may help in the long run. Besides, you're already working on your conflict resolution degree. Think of this as fieldwork. 

About The Author 
Evan Fischer is a contributing writer in the areas of education and personal finance. He is also a part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

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