1. People & Relationships

Should I Have a College Roommate?

Spend Some Time Thinking About the Pros and Cons Before Making a Decision

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You may be a first-year student filling out new-student paperwork, trying to decide if you'd like a roommate or not. Or you may be a student who has had a roommate for several years and now is interested in living on your own. So how can you decide if having a college roommate is a good idea for your particular situation?

Consider the financial aspects. At the end of the day, at least for most college students, there's only so much money to go around. If living in a single / without a roommate will increase the cost of attending college significantly for you, then sticking it out with a roommate for another year (or two or three) is a good idea. If, however, you think you can swing living on your own financially or you think having your own space is worth the extra cost, than not having a roommate might be in the cards. Just think carefully about what any increased costs will mean for your time in school -- and beyond, if you are using loans to finance your education. (Also consider whether you should live on or off campus -- or even in a Greek house -- when factoring in housing and roommate costs.)

Think about having a general roommate, not just one person in particular. You may have lived with the same roommate since your first year on campus, so in your mind, the choice is between that person or no one. But that doesn't have to be the case. While it's important to consider if you want to live with an old roommate again, it's also important to consider whether you want to live with a roommate in general. Have you enjoyed having someone to talk to? To borrow things from? To share stories and laughs with? To help out when you both needed a little lift? Or are you ready for some space and time on your own?

Reflect on what you want your college experience to be like. If you're already in college, think back on the memories and experiences you've come to value the most. Who was involved? What made them meaningful for you? And if you're about to start college, think about what you want your college experience to look like. How does having a roommate fit into all of that? Sure, roommates can be a major pain in the brain, but they can also challenge each other to step outside of comfort zones and try new things. Would you have joined a fraternity, for example, had it not been for your roommate? Or learned about a new culture or food? Or attended an on-campus event that really opened your eyes about an important issue?

Think about what set-up would best support your academic experience. True, college life involves a lot of learning outside of the classroom. But your primary reason for being in college is to graduate. If you're the type of person who enjoys, say, hanging out in the quad for a little while but really likes to head back to a quiet room to get a few hours of studying done, than perhaps a roommate isn't the best choice for you. That being said, roommates can also make awesome study buddies, motivators, tutors, and even lifesavers when they let you use their laptop when yours breaks 20 minutes before your paper is due. They can also help keep you focused and ensure the room stays a place where you both can study -- even when your friends pop over with other plans. Consider all the ways that having a roommate will have an impact on your academics -- both positively and negatively.

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