Living with a Roommate

The expectations you bring to the roommate situation may determine the course of the relationship.

What do you hope your relationship will be? What compromises are you willing to make in terms of living habits? You should discuss your expectations with your roommate. The Office of Residence Life also has expectations for roommates. We expect roommates to communicate with each other, to respect each other, and to be motivated to work on the roommate relationship.

Getting to Know One Another

Getting to know a person who may be a complete stranger requires a plan and thoughtful consideration. We suggest starting with the basics. The more you know about each other, the easier it will be to share of yourself and eventually become friends. Start by talking about:

  • family background and hometown,
  • your decision to attend Lafayette and what you hope to accomplish while at the college,
  • your career aspirations,
  • your high school activities, and
  • hobbies and interests.

After you’ve tackled the basics, explore additional topics . For instance, you may ask:

  • Is religion or spirituality important to you?
  • How do you feel about your possessions—are there items that I may or may not borrow?
  • What are some things I should know about you?
  • Is it easy or difficult for you to make friends—why?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • When do you prefer to be left alone?

These questions may sound a bit daunting right now, but you’ll see how quickly you and your roommate will come to know each other. Try not to form an opinion about your roommate solely from what you see on a social networking site. You should use what they express on those sites as a jumping-off point for conversation.


The most important advice we can offer you in building a roommate relationship is to COMMUNICATE. How will your roommate know the glow of his laptop keeps you up at night unless you tell him? Or the new air freshener she bought triggers your allergies? A successful roommate relationship takes a little work. You should establish early in the semester how you will inform each other that things are not going well. It is important to discuss how you will communicate before problems occur.

Roommate Agreements

To assist you and your roommate in establishing a comfortable and respectful environment in your shared space, your resident adviser will walk you through the creation of a Roommate Agreement. This activity provides the framework for a discussion about your expectations for your room and each other. The agreement covers areas such as personal vs. community property, security, cleaning, sleeping patterns, study habits/locations, visitors, overnight guests, telephone usage, and communication. This agreement should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, as your habits and values will change as you settle into life at college.

When Conflict Arises

Even roommates who are good friends have occasional conflicts. When problems arise, you may wish to revisit some of the items in your Roommate Agreement. Clarification and frequent review can solve the problem. When talking about your differences, listen intently, be open to your roommate’s point of view, and share your feelings openly and honestly. Remember that specific feedback is more helpful than general complaints. Usually, this approach will help you and your roommate find common ground. If going at it alone does not work, contact your resident adviser for assistance. Your RA can offer an objective perspective and facilitate a meaningful conversation between you and your roommate to help you resolve your issues through compromise.


Please consider living with another individual for what it is—a wonderful opportunity for growth and development. In fact, your entire college experience will be filled with such opportunities too numerous to mention. The challenge is to recognize these situations when they arise and to learn to take advantage of the possibilities!