Living with a Roommate

An exciting part of your residence hall experience will be the opportunity to live with a roommate. This person may come from a different part of the country or from a cultural background other than your own. He or she may have interests, personal preferences, and characteristics that are different from yours. The benefit is that you will learn and grow from interacting with this person. The challenge is that you must find common ground on a number of issues in order to live together successfully.

In July, you will receive your housing assignment which will also include your roommate's name, number and address. We recommend that you take time to contact your roommate before arriving at Cornell. Some topics that you may want to cover in your first phone call or email include:

  • Your background, hobbies, interests, favorite movies, etc. Anything that gives your roommate a window into who you are as a person.
  • What items you plan to bring for community use in the room. Are you bringing a TV, an area rug? Chances are two of everything will not fit into your room. Decide what each of you will contribute, to avoid duplication.
  • Are you a morning person or a night person? Conflicting sleep patterns can be one of the greatest obstacles to a successful roommate relationship. Figure out now how you will make your schedules work together successfully.

Other topics to discuss might include: housekeeping - do you prefer a room that is immaculate, or can you handle some disorder?; are you a social person or are you someone who needs plenty of time alone?

These issues and others will be discussed more thoroughly when you arrive on campus, but it is never too early to come up with guidelines for your room that each of you can live with. When discussing these issues with your roommate, the key is to listen closely, try to be non-judgmental, and be open with your feelings. If you are open and honest with your roommate from the start, you are on your way to establishing a basic pattern for good communication, which will make your experience together more rewarding.

Take advantage of the resources provided and complete a Roommate Agreement (pdf). This form is available from your RA and is a great starting point for discussion.

Your RA is also available to work with you and your roommate to resolve roommate difficulties as they arise throughout the year. She or he is trained to facilitate and mediate a discussion between you and your roommate. An objective person can be helpful. Your preferences and feelings may change over time and it is important to continually communicate any changes with your roommate.