Resolving College Roommate Conflict: Open Communication

resolving roommate conflict

Fall semester 2014 is about to come to an end and many students have found that transitioning from home to the dorms is more challenging than predicted. Aside from the struggle to fit in with new friend groups and keep up with schoolwork, living with a roommate can result in added stress. For the betterment of a student’s entire college experience, roommates must work together in order to resolve any issues within their living space.

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Students may find that they have a long list of concerns with their college roommate. These problems could consist of a variety of things such as noise levels, disrespect for one another’s bed times, or even upkeep of the dorm room. These issues can be easily resolved by using open communication. When students make the conscious decision to approach problems head on, they will likely find common ground

While it may seem easier and more convenient to address topics through digital mediums, personal conversations will more likely lead to a successful resolution. For example, when people choose to communicate through short messaging systems, they fail to adequately address their feelings at hand. Communication through text messaging is limited and thus does not provide opportunities for complex dialogues to take place. Additionally, communication through technology prohibits students from developing essential communication and problem solving skills.

[How to tell a college roommate it’s not working out.]

Social media is another form of communication that should be avoided when trying to resolve roommate conflicts. Posting comments online to prompt roommate conversation could result in an escalation of issues. Students will be less likely to cooperate with one another once these types of statements have been publicly posted. While instances of cyber bullying are rare in the student housing facilities, they do happen. Negative postings and experiences with roommates can ultimately impact a student’s overall college experience and may even influence success in the university environment.

Face-to-Face Discussion

Though it may seem daunting, there are a number of ways for students to begin an in-person discussion. One way would be inviting the roommate to coffee or a meal; both individuals may feel more comfortable in a community space. Dining together relieves the pressure of a one-on-one dialogue. The student who wishes to tackle the topic should simply state their issues in a kind, positive, and understanding manner. Conversing in an encouraging tone will allow the roommates to work together for the betterment of their living situation.

[Read more great tips on solving college roommate issues.]

Seek Assistance

Another option is for students to consult their R.A. Ideally the R.A. would be available to orchestrate and mediate the discussion and may even have other suggestions for improvement. Letting an outside, unbiased individual into the conversation may be the simplest way to make progress. Furthermore, an R.A. will be able to continually check in on the situation’s development and uphold each student to his or her end of the agreement.

[What are the next steps you can take when a resolution is not at hand?]

In summation, the betterment of an overall college and roommate experience may simply be improved through humble face-to-face communication. Open dialog about each roommate’s expectations and concerns can help ease the stress and eliminate conflict moving forward.

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 resolving college roommate conflictJordan Jackson has a Master’s in Communication with an emphasis in face-to-face resolution, computer mediated communication and the impact of cyber bullying. Her research on media consumption looks at the long-term impacts of genre specific viewership. Jordan is a writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university. You can learn more about CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.


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One Comment

  1. Diane Thomas Mar 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    Great comment received from Chad Jarrah:
    Roommate Harmony
    Communication is key in any relationship and will continue to be so well past the drama of a college roommate. With any future potential roommates, try to prevent problems before they happen by setting the tone early with what is expected from all parties in regards to the common issues (food, noise levels, cleaning, having friends over, etc.). When a problem does occur, speak up respectfully. Not all shared living situations will work no matter how hard you try, but mutual respect and communication can go a long way. Great article!