Living alone comfortably is an oasis only featured in the dreams of a sleep-deprived college students. Rooming with others is a typical college experience that can have a long list of pros and cons. However, whether the experience is positive or negative, living with a college roommate is guaranteed to be memorable.
College is a time of firsts, a time to experience your first all-nighter, your first time writing a 10-page paper and your first time experiencing all the ups and downs of living with someone else. While the pro side of living with roommates can consist of splitting costs and making new friends, the con list can be ever-growing and changing for some.
“Expect yourself, and your roommate, to be lazy sometimes,” said Patrick Staab, freshman dietetics major.
Staab said that it’s good for roommates to help each other out from time to time when school gets really busy. Staab has been living with his girlfriend for almost a semester and said he’s learned a lot about living with a roommate.
“Living with people is cheaper and stuff gets split between us and the company is nice in general,” said Staab. “There are extra hands to do the housework and everything that needs done.”
Coffee and library time can quickly become staples for all-nighters and long term papers, but living with other people doesn’t have a quick fix and doesn’t get better with more cups of coffee. It’s a process that takes time, communication and a lot of cleaning products.
“[My roommate and I] can really irritate each other from time to time,” said Staab.
Who knew that living with roommates would enhance your communication skills? If you don’t tell your roommate to take out their trash, it might just sit there for a few weeks.
Tara Guinotte, a senior occupational therapy assistant major, said that living with roommates is similar to having a boyfriend or girlfriend and requires a lot of time, effort and communication.
“It’s similar to when you’re in a relationship; you have to be willing to give and take,” said Guinotte. “You’re living with someone who probably doesn’t do everything the exact way you do, and you have to learn to be okay with that adjustment. Living with roommates has been one of my best experiences in college. You essentially have live-in best friends that you don’t even have to text or call to hang out with.”
John Munoz, a junior criminal justice major, currently lives at home, but says he’s heard many roommate horror stories from his friends and fellow students.
“One girl in my class said that her roommate threatened to stab her because she came home super late, like 2 in the morning,” said Munoz.
Munoz currently has no plans to live with roommates in the near future, which may be due to the horror stories he’s heard from his friends, but said that his ideal roommate would be someone who is clean and respectful. Munoz also said he would never want to live with someone who wanted to throw parties all the time.
“People might not pay their bills or pick up after themselves,” said Munoz. “Those would be the major disadvantages.”
You might realize quite a few things about yourself when you live with someone else. Maybe you didn’t realize that you would have to deal with your roommate leaving wet clothes in the washer for 24 hours, or having to inhale the smell of molding dishes that have started oiling up in the sink.
“Stuff not getting done really bothers me and, realistically, I’m part of that problem as well, but it’s still probably my top [aggravating factor],” said Staab.
Adrianna Hendricks, a sophomore anthropology major, said that one of the biggest adjustments to living with other people was realizing the difficulties of sharing a small bathroom with three other girls.
“Back at home, I only have to share my bathroom with my brother,” said Hendricks. “Our shower is so tiny and I learned that girls use a lot of toilet paper. Adjusting to a smaller living space, sharing the kitchen and making sure we all do our part to clean, is important.”
Be prepared for truths about yourself and your roommates to quickly become realized. So why do college students put up with those stinky, messy or all-out unbearable roommates? The answer is simple: it’s cheaper. When saving money is put into perspective, dealing with a few stinky roommates can seem like a more tolerable solution than breaking the bank and taking out another giant loan when you’re eating ramen noodles every night.
Andy Massey said that living with roommates not only allows for cheaper bills, but also can provide a built-in buddy, or someone that can keep you company and hang out with. Massey said he attributes his pleasant roommate experience to the fact that he’s living with a good friend from high school.
“My roommate and I have been friends for a long time,” said Massey. “We get along and it’s someone to hang out with.”
Money goes very fast in everyday life, but in college, money seems to literally fly out of our pockets. Textbooks, food, tuition, rent and large amounts of coffee make college a tale of living cheap while paying loads of money in the hopes of someday earning that money back. Living with other people can help lighten that money load.
“My [roommate] and I wouldn’t be able to make it if we lived by ourselves and were paying for school,” said Staab.
Junior management major Sarah McKenzie said that living with roommates helps with costs but also can create a less lonely environment. McKenzie says that finding a roommate with similar interests is the key to a successful living situation.
“It’s definitely so much cheaper to live with someone and less lonely,” said McKenzie. “Find your kindred spirit. If you like to party then find someone who likes to party, or if you like to stay at home then find someone who likes to stay at home too. Living with people has broadened my horizons and made me realize what I want in life so I wouldn’t trade it and I would encourage people to try it out.”
For some college students, it’s simpler to pick out an apartment and some friends to live with, but for others, finding roommates consists of guesswork and chance. Most colleges seem to randomly select roommate combinations in residence halls, but once students leave the dorms and part ways, roommate selection can be more difficult.
Hillary Ronnebaum, a sophomore nursing major, has had two years of experience of living with roommates. Ronnebaum spent her freshman year living in the residence halls on campus, but this year she said she is happy with her transition into an apartment with three other roommates. Ronnebaum currently does not live with any of her roommates from the residence hall but has made new friends through her current roommates.
“I love always having someone to talk to, help clean up around the apartment, someone to go grocery shopping with or get ice cream late at night when we are all sick of studying,” said Ronnebaum. “I love being able to share clothes and have someone help with paying bills.”
Ronnebaum also says a drawback of living with roommates is the lack of privacy.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get any time to yourself and if you have to fight [with your roommate], then the atmosphere can get awkward because you still have to see and live with the person you’re fighting with,” said Ronnebaum.
Hendricks said that a few of her roommates will be going different ways after their year living together in the Washburn Village comes to an end. However, Hendricks said she is planning on possibly living with one of her roommates in the near future.
Fortunately for some students, living with roommates is more blissful than beastly. Envy is what comes to mind when a college student talks about fun group activities and bonding. It seems as though this scenario is a rarity, and those who have a normal, easy-going roommate should cherish this gift.
Hendricks said the majority of her experiences living with roommates have been positive. Hendricks said that living with other college students can bring a sense of togetherness.
“It’s the typical college experience,” said Hendricks. “I wanted more independence and didn’t want to rely on my parents. There’s so much support, and being able to lie on the couch and do homework together and support each other is really [positive].”
While rent and other bills may be reduced, there are a few other advantages that living with roommates can bring. Sharing a space means sharing items. This can be a positive thing, such as splitting the cost of a couch or finding a roommate that has an awesome television for the living room.
Hendricks said that she frequently will catch a ride to the store with one of her roommates and carpooling to places helps lower her costs.
When asked about the idea of the perfect, non-existent college roommate, many students gave a similar answer.
“Considerate, helpful and friendly,” said Hendricks.
“Responsible, respectful of what is going and reliable,” said Staab. “Those are the three biggest things that a roommate should be.”
Ronnebaum described her ideal roommate as a friend and someone who is respectful and friendly.
“Someone I have a lot in common with so we can become great friends,” said Ronnebaum. “I would want someone who is tidy, who pays their bills on time, who doesn’t touch my food unless I specify that they can and someone who has respect for my personal items as I would theirs.”