7 Types of College Roommates You're Likely to Experience

By Lorena Roberts 

Having to deal with the complexity of college roommates is a part of a huge life transition for most of today's college students. Every fall, thousands of college freshmen move into their new home with a stranger, transitioning their life on multiple levels all at the same time. College is completely different from high school in many ways -- but the most drastic difference between these two times in a student's life is that college means living with someone that you've likely never met before. Maybe you did your fair share of "stalking them" on social media. Maybe you even took the plunge and started messaging them in the middle of the summer.

Or maybe you took the liberty of finding a roommate on your own. Finding a quality roommate can be really tough, but in the end, might be worth it.

Regardless of how you and your roommate ended up together, the space you will share is probably the smallest area you'll ever share with someone else for a long period of time, meaning there's quite a bit of adjustment to do. One of the biggest transitions in college is learning how to live with someone you don't know.



Resident Assistants (RAs) are upperclassmen who are hired to live in dorms to help the process of this transition, as well as to keep an eye on rowdy college freshmen. RAs will try to encourage roommates to talk to each other - discuss the hard stuff. I remember my freshman year college roommate contract included questions like:

How often will you have guests spend the night?

Do you prefer to shower in the morning or the evening?

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely clean, how clean do you consider yourself?

RAs were trying to get us to have conversations with our new roommates that would help us solve issues down the road. Of course, there's a pretty big learning curve when it comes to living with someone else. So our "roommate contract" didn't solve everything. But my freshman year roommate was just the beginning.

As college students progress through their college years, it is likely that they'll have to continue living with people. Living on your own is extremely expensive. And student loans are already weighing down today's college students, so saving money on rent is even more important than ever.

During college, you'll likely experience many different kinds of roommates. You'll also discover what kind of roommate you are in the meantime. Here are the 7 types of college roommates that everyone will likely experience at some point in their college career:


1. The Roommate Who's Still Attached to Their Parents

While everyone experiences a different kind of transition when going to college, it's hard to live with someone who's still really attached to their parents. It's one thing to call your mom on the first day of class to let her know how your professors seem, but it's a completely different ball game when you're asking your parents to help you with your homework and make your decisions for you.

Don't get me wrong, there were multiple times throughout college that I asked for my parents' advice. Whether it was advice on how many hours to take during summer school, or financial aid advice, that's what parents are there for! However, it's completely different when you look to your parents to make your daily life decisions.

Living with someone in college who depends on their parents this much is incredibly frustrating. It'll begin with their parents staying for a few days at the beginning of the semester. They'll use the excuse that they "just want to make sure their student is settled in." While it might not sound like that big of a deal at the moment, just wait until you've attended your first "pre-semester party" and you wake up extremely hungover to your roommate's mom putting away your roommate's clothes.

If you end up with a college roommate who's still extremely attached to their parents, chances are, you'll be extremely frustrated within a matter of days.

What's the best way to handle this kind of roommate? Detach yourself from them. Make your own decisions. Distance yourself. Just because the umbilical cord hasn't been cut from their tummy, doesn't mean yours hasn't, either.


2. The Roommate Who Never Cleans

I'd say this is one of the more common roommate situations for today's college students. Living with someone who doesn't know how to clean up after themselves is a total pain. You'll constantly feel like you're the "mom," picking up after them, cleaning dishes, vacuuming, and taking out the trash. It's frustrating, and you start to resent them.

When you live in a dorm room as a freshman or sophomore, it might not be as obvious. But when you start sharing an apartment with someone who doesn't clean, it becomes really obvious. Finding an apartment is tough in and of itself, but finding the perfect apartment and the perfect roommates to go with it is really tough. If you have roommates who never empty the dishwasher, leave their dirty dishes in the sink, never vacuum, and leave their wet clothes in the washer for days at a time.. you're going to be stressed before the semester even begins.

If you get stuck with this kind of roommate: suggest a cleaning schedule, or splitting up chores. It's probably best to set these boundaries in the beginning, but if you don't, there's still time. Instead of making your roommate feel like they're a lazy piece of crap (though they very well might be), tell them that you feel like splitting the chores is the fairest thing to do, as roommates.


3. The Roommate Who's Really High Maintenance

Roommates who are "really high maintenance" require a ton of attention. Every second that you're in the room together, they're talking to you, asking you questions, or getting your advice on their latest relationship drama. Roommates who are high maintenance can wear you out pretty quickly.

Typically, these roommates are incredibly insecure. They need your advice/opinion on every single decision they're faced with. They're struggling to make the transition to college.

How should you handle living with this type of roommate? Much like the other examples, distance yourself. Encourage them to make decisions for themselves. Every time they ask for your opinion, follow up with "what do you think about....?"

Encouraging them to think for themselves will help them with their transition. Remember that not everyone does so well with this major life transition.

4. The Roommate Who Wants to be Your Best Friend

Sometimes you get paired with someone who wants to be your roommate and your best friend. Sometimes this is good -- but sometimes it can get annoying. Roommates are good company when it comes to studying and staying up late listening to music, but if you end up living with someone who's also your best friend, more than likely you're going to get pretty annoyed/frustrated with them pretty quickly.

The best way to deal with this kind of roommate is: to distance yourself a little. You'll have to interact with them often enough just living together. So if you can, consider just being "roommates" with your roommate. Draw your own boundaries. Otherwise, I promise it won't take long until you're about to explode with frustration and annoyance.


5. The Roommate Who Never Has Any Fun

Maybe you've figured out the balance between studying and partying -- and maybe you haven't. Regardless of your own situation, if you're living with someone who's a complete stick in the mud, it might be hard to adjust. If you're always coming home to your dorm room and your roommate is there, it's probably going to get pretty annoying.

It's tough to live with someone who never gives you "alone time." And it can be totally exhausting to feel like you're always entertaining someone, or at least entertaining conversation with them.

At some point in college, you'll have to live with someone who's a totally home-body. The best way to handle a roommate like this: is to bring up the topic of when they'll be visiting family for the weekend, or suggest they get involved in some clubs on campus. Suggesting social activities may push them to make some friends and put some events on their social calendar, which will mean you'll have the room to yourself every now and then.

6. The Roommate Who Came to College to Party

This is likely one of the more rampant types of roommates on a college campus. When high schoolers transition into their new college life, they're overwhelmed with the number of distractions that are available. Pretty soon, they have a tough time getting themselves to class, and instead, spend the majority of their time at parties all across campus. Sure, they're making tons of friends and memories, but they're also probably pretty deep in debt with pretty terrible grades.

It's hard to live with someone like this, because it's tough to keep up with your studies when you're constantly tempted to go out and have fun with them. More than anything, living with a roommate like this means you run the risk of "looking like" the nerdy one. When they bring people over to pre-game and you're waist-deep in your Chemistry assignment, it'll look like you're a stick in the mud.

But what's important about learning how to deal with this kind of roommate is: know that you're being the more responsible student when you choose to study over going out all the time. Your studies are way more important than a few nights of "fun." And once you get into the routine of going out often, it's hard to get yourself back on track. It's much easier to just stay focused and not risk your academic success, in my opinion.

If you get stuck with a roommate who likes to party more than you do and it makes you uncomfortable - know that you're completely within your rights to request a room transfer. This happens at colleges all the time. Especially with freshmen. Especially within the first few weeks of college. It's tough to "match people" up without knowing who they are. So don't be too hard on the housing department and gently request to be transferred at the beginning of the following semester.


7. The Roommate Who Isn't Considerate At All

More than likely, at some point in college, you'll have to live with a roommate who seems to have no respect for other people at all. They'll bring people over without asking. They'll play music loudly in the middle of the night. They'll make tons of noise when they come in while you're sleeping.

It's tough to live with someone who doesn't seem to have any consideration for other people. The best way to deal with this type of roommate: is to avoid trying to make them be considerate. You can't change other people. You can only control your own behaviors. So instead, approach them (gently) and tell them what bothers you. Set some ground rules. Tell them you'd really prefer if they let you know when they're going to be having people over.

College roommates can be tough -- but they can also turn into some of your very best friends. People hold their college roommates in high regard, even inviting them to their wedding, or having them involved in their children's lives later on down the road. Friendships from college should be cherished. If you don't end up being life-long friends with your college roommate, that's okay. You'll surely make plenty of other friends you'll want to keep in touch with over the years.

If you feel like you keep running into problems with roommates, it might be time to analyze what kind of roommate you are. Maybe you hold people to really high standards. Maybe you're a perfectionist and you're overly worried about the actions of others. It's easy to be frustrated with people who aren't like you. It's easy to be frustrated with other college students who don't seem to be as mature as you are. Remember that you are in control of your own life. If you need to live alone throughout your college years, that's okay. Bite the bullet, take out the extra student loans, and make sure you're in an environment where you can be the most successful.

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