College Roommate Tips

naked roommateLast year, Bob Andelman (aka Mr. Media, and a friend) interviewed Harlan Cohen, of “Help Me Harlan” and author of The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only (which I’ve read and recommend), about parenting teens leaving for college. I took notes because my daughter’s boyfriend was a high school senior, and my kids were a junior and sophomore, so I figured I had some relevant lessons to learn.

There was a lot I enjoyed about the interview, found here: http://mrmedia.com/2014/08/help-me-harlan-kid-going-to-college-fall-video/. Today I share with you, paraphrased…

3 Roommate Rules:

1. Your roommate is there to share the fees and does not need to be your friend. I had this problem with my first college roommate. I got there, we bonded, then I made other friends and she felt left out and retaliated in rude ways. I wasn’t wearing a promise ring from her, I just wanted to get along… which brings us to…

2. If you want to get along with your roommate, you’ll find a way. Seriously, all you need to do is be respectful. You can avoid drama even if you don’t like each other. But sharing space is always more comfortable if you do like each other!

3. The Uncomf0rtable Rule: If you are ever uncomfortable with something that happened with your roommate, you must communicate about it in 24-48 hours. Not before, not after. Make this a pact with your roommate so you BOTH do it. People suck at uncomfortable, but if there is a plan in place it helps.

One parent asked about a very sexual roommate living with her religious, virgin teen, and how that might play out. Remember, says Harlan, living with someone who has different values probably won’t change you. You won’t start having threesomes five times a day because of a sexually active roommate if you are saving yourself for marriage. You won’t become a huge partier after watching your roommate throw up from drinking too much and failing math class. In fact, it might make you second guess their poor choices. You’ll learn and grow from it, like a visit to a foreign country. I discovered the band “The Cure” from my roommate even though she ended up being a butthead.

My daughter found two roommate leads before freshman year in different ways. One was through a cousin who had a friend with a daughter interested in the same school. The other was through a Facebook group her college made for her graduating class (search Facebook for “College Name Class of 20XYZ.”) People left little notes about themselves and their personalities, and could message others who sounded compatible. “I’m a science major who plans to rush Ate Two Pizzas sorority and I like loud techno music. I’m a night owl who eats peanut butter out of the jar, and I will totally help you with your hair – I’m really good with braiding and products.”

Good luck to whoever lives with DD1! She’s a mess! But she’s honest and fun, which will probably matter more.

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