Let’s face it; living with roommates can be either one of the most obnoxious or rewarding experiences of your life. Dorms are cramped, hot and messy, but having a roommate can open up many doors that you may not have otherwise had. However, in order to make the most of your roommate experience, you need to set some ground rules; who’s going to do the dishes, when is it time to be quiet so the other roommate can sleep, what happens when another person is sexiled (see page ). These are just a few of the basic ground rules that need to be established in a roommate agreement form.


Dishes can pile up just as quickly as homework. Having a solid agreement on who does the dishes and when can eliminate the mess associated with utensils.

Each roommate can do dishes on different days, or each roommate can be responsible for the utensils they use. Either way, making sure dishes are done in a timely manner can reduce the already messy environment that can be found in the dorms.

Quiet Hours

This is a big one, as everyone has different sleeping schedules. Being cramped in a small dorm room can make quiet noises seem much louder to the person trying to sleep. Working out a schedule that determines when everyone needs to quiet down can reduce the tension that can develop from too much noise.

It’s important to be respectful of sleep times as well. If your roommate is trying to sleep, you probably shouldn’t be playing music or sharpening pencils. Having this sort of agreement or schedule will prevent a lot of the tension and bitterness that is associated with living in close quarters with someone.

Being Sexiled

This is just a fact of college life. Part of being in a dorm means there is a lack of privacy, so when your roommate and their significant other get together, it’s time to leave. Clarity is key here. This sort of agreement will vary between people, but having a contingency plan for when it does happen is important.

Listing out the sort of steps each person should take will mitigate the confusion, frustration or surprise of your roommate bringing someone over. If you’re the one bringing a person over, make sure you talk with your roommate beforehand so they know what’s coming.


Quick! You have class in 10 minutes, but you haven't eaten breakfast. Your roommate has pop tarts on their shelf, but you don’t know if you can take them. What do you do?

Determining whose food is whose and which food is shareable will be extremely helpful for those tight situations when you need a quick bite to eat. By communicating which food is O.K. and which is off limits, you will have eliminated some of the gray areas involved. This could change as time goes on — maybe you don’t want your roommate to have your mac and cheese this week even though it was fine last week — but communication is very important in preventing conflict.

Know Who to Go to

Don’t forget to consult your Resident Advisor! They are excellent resources for living in the residence halls and have extensive knowledge on all things roommate-related.

Living in the dorms can be a really rewarding experience, as long as you have the right attitude and have established rules that work for both of you.