It’s the summer before your freshman year, and we know that you’re more than excited about all the things college will bring. But of all the things that excite you most about college, your future roommate (or roommates, if you’re assigned more than one) is probably near the top of that list!
At the same time, rooming with a stranger can put many people on edge, especially since you’ll be rooming with her for a whole year. But getting to know your roommate before you move to campus can help with a lot of worries you might have. Read on to find out how you and your future roommate can reach out to each other and start on the right foot!
How should I contact my roommate?
Many colleges assign roommates randomly, and when they do, they usually give out some contact info for you to get in touch with whomever you’re living with. If the college you’ll be attending does that, how should you start talking to your roommate?
Colleges that do give out roommate contact info usually give you your roommate’s email address, and email can be a great way to introduce yourself! Because you’ve never met or spoken before, it’s fine if your first interactions with each other are more formal since you’re just trying to establish some sort of contact with your roommate.
While some roommates don’t talk to each other all that much before college starts, others want to talk way more. If you and whomever you’re living with fall into the second category, there’s going to be a point where you might want to move away from email and get the conversation going elsewhere. Email is great if you want to keep up a steady dialogue, but you may want something more conversational and lively as time goes on.
Chat her up
If you and your roommate are more eager to get to know each other, start chatting each other! This is where Facebook, Gchat and any other chat service comes in. Chat conversations are more informal, but they also give both of you enough distance since you’re not super close yet. In cases where you and your roommate talk constantly, you’re likely going to want something more personal than email, which means chatting online is a great way to stay in touch.
Many colleges don’t actually give out roommates’ phone numbers, but if they do, you’re going to want to save it for way later, once you’re actually comfortable with your roommate. Calling your roommate as a first point of contact could be a little too much since you don’t know each other yet, so definitely avoid phoning her up until you’ve gotten to know each other better!
You’ve initiated contact—now what?
Share some basic facts about yourself
What sports do you play? What’s your favorite food? Does either one of you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Just as you would do with any new friend you met, share some basic facts about yourself. But don’t make it all about you; ask your roommate questions and get to know all about her, too. That way, you can keep the conversation going!
- Some very basic icebreaker questions to try:
- What’s your major, and why did you choose it?
- Where are you from? What’s your hometown like?
- What extracurriculars were you involved in in high school?
- Where’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to? What was your favorite part about it?
- What do you think college is going to be like? What are you most looking forward to?
Since you and your roommate both just met and likely met online, don’t feel like you need to have deep, extremely personal conversations that you’re meant to have once you know someone better. As move-in day approaches, keep sharing more and more facts about yourself.
If you need to, start setting some boundaries
Like we mentioned before, it’s completely okay to let your roommates know what you are and aren’t comfortable with. Many collegiettes do it, and it lets them and their roommates start off conflict-free!
“We definitely talked about if we would be having boys stay over in the room ever or even just small things like if we liked to sleep with the room warm or cold,” Gonzaga University sophomore Sarah Wainschel says of her pre-move-in conversations with her roommate. “It wasn't too awkward to bring up sensitive subjects, like if we both drank or not.”
But at the same time, don’t try to set up too many limits from the get-go, or you may end up sending the wrong message about yourself. If you’re going to lay down some boundaries, bring them up after you and your roommate get to know each other a little more, since you might come off as too uptight otherwise.
“We didn't try to establish any rules or boundaries online,” says Alice*, a junior at Skidmore College. “I feel like it would have sent the wrong message, like we were overly controlling or demanding. I think it's best to talk those things over in person.”
Again, letting your roommate know your limits will make sure she has an idea of how she can live comfortably with you. But at the same time, don’t try to be too demanding from the start. If you feel like the conversation is better left for when you meet in person, that’s completely alright as well!
Some extra tips
Talk as much as you need to
Some collegiettes talk to their future roommates every day or a few times a week, but others only talk occasionally. If you aren’t super comfortable with constantly chatting up your roommate-to-be, know that it’s totally appropriate to reach out to each other only every now and then as well. Do whatever is natural to you, because that will keep your conversations from seeming too forced or being awkward.
“I just texted her and asked whenever [things] came up naturally in conversation,” Sarah says. “Besides that, we would text each other just every once in a while if we wanted input on what bedspread to get or to let each other know we loved the other’s dress at prom.”
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Let’s say that you have nothing in common with your roommate, or you feel like she’s just not someone you’ll get along with. Even if that’s the case, don’t give up and assume that you’re going to have a terrible time living together! There are tons of collegiettes out there who thought they wouldn’t get along with their freshman roommates but ended up becoming great friends instead.
“Actually, what's interesting is that my roommates and I couldn't have been more different from one another,” recalls Iris Goldzstajn, a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The one who found me first was a shy art major from San Francisco, and the one who was a second year was a very engaged and opinionated poli sci major from Washington. I'm a really peppy girls’ girl, so we basically had very little in common! We bonded mostly over being able to learn from what we all had to offer and wanting to get along.”
This lesson is especially important if you’re browsing your roommate’s Facebook. Social media accounts only scratch the surface of what a person is really like, so don’t take everything you see at face value!
“I guessed from Facebook that I was totally different from both of my roommates, and I was right, but we ended up having a much more easygoing living space than most of my friends who were paired with girls more similar to them,” Alice says. “We never argued once, we were one of the few rooms that remained a triple the entire year and we still keep in touch!”
In the end, your freshman college roommate will likely be your first friend, and therefore the first person you get close to once you move away from home. While you won’t really get to know each other until you both actually move in, reaching out to each other will let both of you transition into college life way more smoothly!
*Name has been changed.