College is an exciting time for students and parents, but it can also be nerve-racking. Even if you land the college of your dreams, finding the perfect (or even tolerable) roommate is not easy. There is bound to be a learning curve whether you live with your best friends or strangers.

That’s why following college roommate etiquette is so important. Here are some ways to use consideration, respect and honesty to make the transition easier.

Communicate with Kindness

Successfully living with someone else takes communication, and lots of it!

A simple question like, “Hi! How was your day?” will show you care about them. Make conversations count, from casual chats to formal discussions about dorm room rules. Every interaction will help you learn the other person’s perspective and increases your odds of living in harmony.


Respect Personal Items and Space

Do not assume your roommate wants to share. Whether it’s borrowing a shirt or taking someone else’s leftovers from the fridge, ask first. The same goes for adding or removing anything from a shared space.

You will want to set boundaries when it comes to guests. It doesn’t matter how long the guest might stay—an hour, overnight or longer—discuss what you and your roommate are comfortable with before guests arrive.

Having a messy roomie is one of the most annoying things about living with someone else. One of the first things you should do after move-in is to divvy up daily or weekly chores to ensure each person is doing their part.

Your sleeping schedule is important, so discuss it with your roommate. The same goes for quiet time and study hours. Everyone should be able to get the rest they need without it being inconvenient for others.

Curling up on the couch to binge-watch an entire season of your favorite show may sound inviting, but if you share a living room space with others, make sure it is accessible to everyone.

Blasting your music, Facetime calls or TikTok videos is inconsiderate. Invest in a good pair of headphones – they might come in handy for studying, too.

Honestly Approach Problems

When issues come up, speak up. Talking about issues openly and directly early on will save you stress and tension. Avoiding the person, talking about them on social media or venting to others will not solve the problem. Set aside time each week to check in with one another so minor issues don’t become a major problem.

It can be tough to live with someone new, but by setting some simple ground rules, being kind, communicating effectively and being honest when issues arrive, you can make dorm-room living a lot more pleasant. And, who knows? You may make some friends in the process.

Kristi Spencer

Kristi Spencer is on a mission to make life easier, smoother and more pleasant for everyone. She founded The Polite Company with one goal in mind: to help people present the best version of themselves to the world. She provides personalized in-person or online lessons emphasizing social skills, self-esteem building and business etiquette. She helps clients find success at work and in relationships as well as increasing confidence through a better understanding of manners and principles. As a graduate of the Emily Post Institute, the gold standard of etiquette training, Kristi’s dedication to etiquette is unparalleled. Kristi is the exclusive etiquette instructor in the Four-State Region who is trained by the Emily Post Institute. Kristi Spencer lives in Carl Junction, Missouri, with her husband and two sons.