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Roommates: Perfect or problem?

By By Chronicle Advice Columnist

If you and your roommate have unspoken conflicts that are driving you crazy, check out the advice below. If you have a question, send it to our advice columnist at

1) We've been on campus for a month, and already my roommate's moved out on me! What did I possibly do wrong when all I did was try to be nice?

The problem is not always you. Reasons for moving out extend from accidental placement in the wrong dorm to a prior request to room with someone differently. However, whatever the reason, it's still a process to get through when you've been ditched by someone you've just gotten to know; you take it personally. If you did all you could to make a positive environment for you and your roommate and that didn't work, then that was their problem. What you need to do now is look forward to your next roommate, and if no one comes, HALLELUJAH! Congrats, you now have a really big single!

2) My room is a pigsty thanks to my roommate and, on top of it all, the cooking they do smells horrible! Where do I draw the line?

No one can deny that they don't have some mess currently growing somewhere in their dorm whether it's under the bed or in the closet or even in the bathroom. But what people can deny is the idea that they have to live in a clutter of clothing, furniture, and something that used to look like food but now has hair growing on it. Organization is truly the key here: shelving, hangers, hooks, etc. Setting up a system with your roommate helps to keep the order in balance between both sides of the room, and even a cleaning schedule could do wonders for the bathroom no one wants to touch. As for the cooking, every dorm comes equipped with a kitchen. Out of courtesy, you'd think people would be polite and do their cooking there.

3) I've tried everything to get my roommate to leave the room with me, but the answer is always "No." Where is the failure to communicate coming in?

The matter of the fact is that some people just fail to communicate with anyone and everything, and at any chance they get, they'll hide in their dorm from everyone else. Whether it's a recluse problem or a social problem, everyone has already seen that one person on campus whose day has consisted of bed, TV, and their laptop; virtually no one is around. That being said, there still is no reason why any roommate can't spend at least one night a week getting to know the other person living five feet away from them. Going to dinner, meeting each other's friends, or just working on homework together is a small step that could usually progress into daily activities and eventually a friendship while on campus. All you need to look out for is the roommate who's attached to their pillows and sheets; if you see that, it's time for an intervention!

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