Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 21, 2024

Roommate Survival Guide

By KATIE TAM | August 30, 2018

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. (5)

Roommates. A quintessential part of the College Experience™. Who your roommate is can have a big impact on the rest of your life — I mean you are living with this person for a year in pretty tight quarters. So if you don’t want to end up hating the person you’re living with two months into the semester, keep reading for roommate do’s and don’t’s. 

DO: Outline some boundaries to start the year off in the right direction. 

Sit down and talk with your roommates about rules you’d like to establish. Doing this now helps set a routine and can hopefully save some headaches down the line. Be open about what you are and aren’t comfortable with and be willing to make reasonable changes to your own lifestyle as well. 

DO:  Create a schedule for shared housekeeping chores. 

This includes cleaning the bathroom (if you’re not in the AMRs) and taking out any shared trash cans. If one person cleaned the bathroom last month, the other should clean it this month. If one person took out the trash this week, the other should take it out next week. Common sense, right? But when classes really start to pick up and you forget a couple times, having a schedule helps keeps things organized. 

DO:  Get to know each other! 

Invite your roommate to have dinner at the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC) or R. House, or go explore Hampden together. You’ll both be in the same boat coming into Hopkins, so your roommate can be one of the first friends you make on campus. 

DO:  Communicate when you have problems.  

This is probably the most important tip I have. No amount of praying or ranting to your friends back home will magically change anything. This can be hard, especially if you don’t like confrontation or if you’re afraid of ruining a friendship. But again, nothing will change if you don’t speak up. This includes speaking to your RA too if you can’t get through to your roommate; they’re there to help!

DON’T: Try to sneak in animals.

I mean, you should know this already because it’s against housing policies, but I just wanted to remind you. Not speaking from personal experience or anything (cough, cough), but don’t do it.

DON’T: Invite people over to your room without letting your roommate know in advance.

A quick text is all you need. I’m sure no one wants to come back to their room ready for a nap only to find a group of people hanging out there. This includes significant others! As much as you may love having them around all the time, your roommate probably doesn’t feel the same. 

DON’T: Be too loud when the other is trying to study or sleep. 

Self-explanatory, but this is especially important as classes start getting busier and the endless cycle of midterms begins. Understand that your roommate will probably have different sleep and study habits than what you are used to. Learning to accept this and compromise when these habits may not line up with your expectations is especially important as you both get busy with classes and clubs. 

Extra Tip:  You and your roommate don’t have to be best friends. 

And to be honest it’s unlikely that you will be. But you are sharing a space and should be respectful of each other’s boundaries. Most of these tips seem pretty straightforward, but when you’re living with someone else, habits you’ve developed over the years that seem completely fine to you may be annoying to others. Learning to compromise while also being respectful is something you’ll learn through trial and error. Your College Experience™ will be so much better if you do. 

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