How to Be the World’s Best College Roommate

Categories: Life at Columbia

Fall 2017 is launched and Columbia’s two residence buildings are full of new and continuing students! We asked Columbia students and alumni for their best advice on how to be an awesome roommate and they delivered. Here’s the list – with first-hand quotes from your fellow students.


Start things off right with a “Let’s talk roomie guidelines” session. Are you grumpy in the mornings? A neat-and-tidy person? Someone who needs country music on while you’re doing homework?

Agree on some guidelines you’re both willing to live with. Is it okay to have friends over without checking with each other? Which mornings do you desperately want to sleep in, and which nights do you need to be asleep by a certain time? Who’s going to clean the bathroom when? Is your room going to be a fun, relaxing space or a study space or both?

“No talking before 9 AM” John W.

“Be considerate of others’ schedule. if your roommate has 8am class….. don’t practice singing and playing guitar at 1am.” Ryan C.

“Be mindful of late night noise and light. If you have homework to work on late at night and your roomie wants/needs sleep… then go do your homework in a lounge or something.”  Sierra T.



Speaking of who’s going to clean the bathroom – good roommates don’t let their shared living space morph into a biohazard.

“Our area was so gross that I didn’t even want to spend time in my dorm room. One guy’s dirty laundry was on the kitchen floor. I had to push it out of the way to get into the fridge.” – Anonymous, but real, guy.

“Make a cleaning schedule! While the idea doesn’t sound great, having your kitchen/bathroom tidied continually makes life easier.” – Dallas H.

“Learn to make your bed. Your roommate might like it. Your mom definitely will like it. You will learn to like it.” – Ethan L.


No, really. Communicate.

Learn the adult art of ‘How to Bring Stuff Up.’ If you’re feeling annoyed, gently mention to your roomie before it gets to the gritting your teeth stage. If this feels weird and hard, try scheduling a weekly ‘State of the Union’ meeting where you check in and bring up anything that needs bringing up.

“Talk things through right away if you’re having a dispute.” – Shelby S.

“Communication is key! If you have issues make sure you talk about it instead of bottling it up which can lead to a larger fight later.” – Ferin W.

Being honest (with love) can go a long way. Sometimes a person doesn’t know that their habit or behaviour is rude or thoughtless – approaching it gently, one on one, can work.” – Yvette H.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously and communication is key. Don’t leave passive aggressive notes, but rather have the courage to have a difficult conversation if need be.” – Sarah D.


Your roomie may turn out to be your soulmate, or your opposite, or somewhere in between. Whichever it is, this is the human being you’re going to live with this year, and he or she has a guaranteed awesome side. So be open! Make time to bond. Come up with inside roommate jokes and embrace the experience of sharing a tiny space with this person, this year.

“Be your roommate’s friend. Use it as an opportunity to grow, encourage and be there for each other. Find something you both have in common and do it together (jam session, watch a movie, play a board game etc.)” – Ethan L.

“I had the best roommate because they intentionally got to know me and I intentionally got to know them. The thing is whether you click right off the bat or nor you’re gonna spend a lot of time together so effort is essential. Don’t be a buzzkill get ready for 1 am adventures to Wendy’s, late night study sessions and random sleep deprived chats. Journey life with this person ‘cause they can become a family away from home.” – Amanda S.

“Order Pizza when you can and they’ll deliver it to the dorm.” – Kaitlyn P.

“Allow each other to sing at all times. Laugh at each other when you drop drawers on your toe. Get mad when your roommate in crutches makes too much noise hobbling across the room. Get up 5 minutes before every TMT practice so that you can experience stress together like never before but laugh about it later. Make up cool code names about boys and use them as needed.” – Jenica.


Above all…

“Just be nice and respectful and all-around good dude.” – Justin S.

“Respect each other’s space and occasional need for “me time” or “God time””-  Joanna F.

“Buy them a fish.” – Matt S.

“Be kind. Have grace on one another. Sometimes when you’re having a rough day, all it takes is your roommate leaving you a nice note to turn your day around. And don’t be afraid to be the first one to be kind. You won’t regret it.” – Sarah M.

“Use common sense and do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. And above all else LOVE!” – Sarah-Michelle D.



Your RL is there to help you settle into res life.  They’re there to talk to if you need advice or help working through issues.  Don’t be afraid to talk to him/her and ask for help if you need it.

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