Guide to Roommates: Dos and Don’ts

Though students bear the primary responsibility for successful roommate relationships, parents play an integral role. While conflict is likely to occur when living in such close quarters with another person, it doesn’t have to be as disruptive as it might appear at the outset. Your student often will take his or her cues from you. The tips below will help you support them on the road to easier roommate living. 


  • Encourage your student to talk to his/her roommate honestly, even if he or she is normally shy. Good communication is key to a good living relationship. Remind your student to set expectations and guidelines for how the room operates. Do this early and revisit those guidelines throughout the year to make any necessary changes. Residence-hall staff is happy to help.

  • Ask staff for guidance. Remember that patterns change as the year goes on. The roommate who once was a morning person could become a night person, so it’s important to respect growth and development.

  • Talk to your student about his/her living situation and encourage him/her to involve hall staff. Often, issues that seem to have no solution can be resolved with the quick involvement of our trained staff. Remind them to be assertive but also ready to compromise. Communication begins with stating needs clearly; that can help ensure conflict doesn’t occur in the first place.

  • Know the resources and remind your student of them. Each student is assigned a resident assistant and each building has at least one resident director who lives in the building. Master’s-level professional staff are assigned to run each hall; there is a residence-life staff member on call at all times.


  • Play the blame game. Most roommate conflicts result from a lack of communication of clear expectations on both sides. Remember, you’re only hearing one side of the story.

  • Assume that your student and their roommate have to be exactly alike. Good living situations are a result of communication and mutual respect for one another. Not everyone has the same definition of “early” or “clean;” it’s important that students communicate their needs clearly.

  • Assume your student is in it alone. Any student can seek his or her RA to assist with a mediation. Or any of our staff. We want to help resolve the conflict and make sure everyone grows from the experience.

  • Hesitate to contact the Residential Life & Housing Office at (804) 828-7666 if you have questions, concerns or issues you need to discuss with us.