By: Meg Cowan (Guest Blogger)
We are excited to have a college student guest blogging for Our Circle of Moms on the problems that our kids face when they head to college. Check back for her next post in June.
This past August, I left my home state for college in South Carolina. I was moving entirely away from everything and everyone I knew for the first time. I was excited. Still, I felt twinges of anxiety without having a support system in place. Out of everything, I felt the most anxiety about living with eight total strangers for the foreseeable future.
Fears of my female roommates plagued me. I had heard the horror stories. Unfortunately, it is likely your child will not like their roommate or suitemate. If your child’s roommate or suitemate ever insults your child, steals from them, threatens, or hurts them, you should encourage and help your child get out of that living situation immediately.
There will certainly be disagreements about quiet hours and complaints about whose turn it is to take out the trash, but this is normal. My advice when dealing with roommates is, firstly, to pick your battles. For example, the thermostat temperature is not worth a huge fight. When your student first moves in, recommend they work together to collectively pick a temperature the thermostat should stay at, having it err on the side of being too cold. That way everyone can wear however many layers they feel comfortable in. You can always add more layers, but you can’t necessarily remove more layers.
One piece of advice to give your kids about living with others that you may not think of is to be considerate about having people over. If your child has a significant other who is over all the time, this can be disruptive to the others living with your child. Whether it is a significant other or just a hookup, no one wants to have a stranger sleeping over in his or her room every night. Encourage your child to give their roommates’ warning if they are having someone over, especially if they will be spending the night.
Another roommate problem students commonly run into is that their roommates do not clean up after themselves. As parents, I recommend teaching your child how to clean and the importance of cleaning up after themselves. They can also set guidelines to at least keep the common areas clean. My roommates did not seem to realize that if they would clean their shower and toilet then the mold they were disgusted by would disappear. Several of them did not even know how to unclog a toilet, leading to a tense situation where eight girls were using one bathroom for an extended amount of time because they were unwilling to take care of the situation. It was disgusting and went on long enough that I even offered to buy these girls a plunger. Teaching your child how to do basic cleaning chores, such as doing their laundry and unclogging a toilet will make their life and the lives of those living with them more enjoyable. However gross tasks like unclogging a toilet are, your child should be able to be responsible and mature enough to do it, for the sake of the entire living group.
Living together with strangers in a completely new environment is stressful, but throughout college these tips will make your child’s life with roommates easier.