Archive for the 'Roommates' Category

Roommate Relationships

It’s midterm time now and the honeymoon period for the relationship between roommate pairs is over…. LIfe gets more serious now and the little differences between roommates become harder to ignore…….  If your relationship hasn’t already caused you and your roommate to have a serious talk about any issues, you should probably sit down and reassess how things are going for each of you.   One theory about the stages of group development categorizes the stages each has to go through before they can become a high performing team as: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing……   Forming was when you met up and moved in together, Storming is next – and it’s where the group learns to address and work through conflicts.  If the conflicts in a group (you and your roommate are a group of 2) aren’t addressed, then you will stay in this stage.

It’s hard to confront things that may seem silly, but when you live in such close quarters, the little things add up and can become a big deal.  If you have a list in your head of all the things your roommate has “done” to you, or a list of their ideosycracies that annoy you, it’s time for a talk – You can also be sure that your roommate has the same “lists” for what they would like to change about you.

Most people are reasonable.  If you don’t give them the chance to change by even letting them know that you are upset, then the issue is yours.  Moving on to become a team that can develop a healthy level of mutual respect is far better than living with daily issues that distract and upset you.

Please do yourself a favor and have a discussion.  Don’t whip out your list and attack, demanding that everything be perfect for you.  Ask your roommate how things could be improved when you are both at home – review or create a real rooommate agreement, now that it’s not just an exercise…  Get advice from your RA on how to ask questions and on how to create a welcoming environment that will encourage some open and honest sharing.

Take responsibility for making it a healthy and productive relationship.

Roommate Requests -Change for this year

For the first year this year, we will not be able to guarantee that we can honor all roommate requests.  We will still do our best to keep all roommate pairs together, if they are submitted by the June 1st initial deadline.

The reason for the change is due to the number of facebook roommate pairs.  In the past, it was typical to have 25% of the class request roommates.  Last year that percentage was up to 50% of the class.  We were able to almost honor every request last year, but we can’t predict what will happen this year and we don’t want to promise something that we can’t deliver on.

Take care,


Transfer Students and Double Rooms

Most of the requests that we receive from transfer students are hoping/asking for assignment to a single room.  Unfortunately the demand for single rooms is much higher than the supply.  I would like to suggest that if you are offered a space in a double room, that you think carefully about accepting it before you reject it.   Having a roommate, at this period in your life, is not a bad thing.  Being new here, it can be a significant source of support to have someone close to discuss things with it can also help broaden your circle of acquaintances quickly.  The other part of this is that in order to work the system to eventually get into a single room, you first need to be in housing somewhere…..  You have to get in the door.  During the course of the Fall Semester, we allow room changes at any time after the first 2 weeks of the semester.  If you come in an get on a waiting list for a single then, there is a good chance that you will eventually get one.  Once in a single, if you like the location, you will be able to re-sign for the same space for subsequent years.  If you turn down on Grounds housing because we aren’t able to initially offer you what you want, it will be less likely that you will ever have that opportunity.  In the bigger picture, living on Grounds does help you connect to more essential services and resources, so if it means putting up with a roommate for a little while, it’s probably worth that.

Roommate Choice

How do you choose a roommate for your first year in college?  Who should you live with?  Is it better to live with a friend from home, to do an extensive and exhaustive search on facebook to find the right person?  Should I take a chance and go with a person that is randomly assigned by the software used for match roommates?  How can I insure that I have the best roommate possible?   There’s always the full range of questions and for some, stress, related to the choice of a roommate.

The three kinds of roommate you can have are: 1) someone that you already have a relationship with  2) someone that you meet on-line and choose to live with and 3) a randomly assigned roommate…   The research on roommate matching shows or demonstrates that there is no statistically significant difference between the success rate of any of these 3 options.  What does that mean?  It means that no matter who you work with, to be successful, just like any other relationship, it’s going to require that you work at it and that you be willing to get to know, understand and work cooperatively with another person.  If you are too stubborn or too used to getting your own way to compromise, living with a best friend may not be any better than living with a complete stranger – The problem won’t be the other person.  I have students tell me – I’ve had a bad roommate every year.  I would love to tell them that I’m sure that their roommates would all also agree with that statement….  1/2 of all of the marriages in this country fail… and you can’t create a more intense vetting/decision making process than that.  It takes 2 people who are willing to talk with each other, to respect and respond to each other, to be willing to take risks and talk to each other to work through conflicts….   That’s why the University of Virginia feels strongly about the random assignment process.  We want you, for this one year, if no other, to live with people that are different from you and to learn to negotiate for your needs and to take the needs of others into account.  For your long term personal happiness and success, this may be the most important learning experience you might have in College.

My real advice is that you need to do what you feel most comfortable with.  I hope that you are open to the excitement/experience of living with a randomly chosen roommate.  If you do feel/believe that you would be happiest living with a friend, please do that.  You each need to preference each other on your application.  My only caution is that you will change a lot during your first semester and year in college.  Living with someone who knows you as you are now and expects you to continue to be that way can cause a strain in the friendship.  You can also each live with other roommates but still be able to hang out with each other – and each become a part of the other’s new network.  You can always have the benefits of having friends that live nearby without having to be roommates with them.   There is also nothing wrong with living with someone you’ve selected from a social media connection.  It’s also a healthy thing to go into the roommate relationship as something that you have chosen for yourself.  Hopefully, that will make it easier for you to stick it out and work through conflicts (that will arise).

I am trying to hit a balance here between covering this topic and beating it to death.  To repeat my main  message – don’t worry to much, what ever path you choose to take- the results are about the same….  You can’t make a wrong choice if you do what you feel fits best for you personally.  (If you feel that a single room would be best for you, that is also an option.)  In the process of development every group or relationship goes through the same general stages.  Those stages are characterized as “Forming”, “Storming”, “Norming” and “Performing”…   What that means is that there will initially be a honeymoon kind of period where you are both excited about all the new things and life here in general.. You’ll be willing to put up with lots of things and laugh them off.  As time passes, you will get busier with work and the pressure you face will build and suddenly you will cross into the “storming” stage….. now the coming home and turning on the lights after you’re in bed, or the clothes all over the floor —you name it, will suddenly make you angry and resentful….  In order for you and your roommate to ever get to the next stage, you have to confront and work out your difference -and get to the point where you can develop “Norms”, or standards for behavior that you both understand and can live with.   If you can’t do that, you’re done…  One person will take over the room, the other will hang out elsewhere and just come home to sleep…. or one of you will silently seeth with anger, mentally noting each insensitive, careless, thoughtless thing the other does and it will add up until you dream about doing bad things to the other —-  For your age group and most people, it is hard and does take a bit of courage.  If you don’t a least let your roomate know when things are bothering you, then you aren’t giving the roommate the chance to change.  It’s always heartbreaking to see people suffer silently -and make lots of bad assumptions about the other person -when the other person has no reason to know that their behavior is a problem…..  You need to speak up and make sure that you give the other person the same consideration that you would like.  Hard at first, but easier as you get practice -and then completely easy as you find out that your roommate isn’t such a bad person….   Once you get to the final -performing stage then your roomate can really be a source of support and the synergy of your relationship will help both of you persist and become successful here….  It takes work to make it work, no matter who your roommate is……

more tomorrow.

Room Change Period Begins on Sept. 7

We still have students arriving to check in.  That will continue for the next few days yet.  In order for us to really be sure that we know who is here and who did not arrive, we ask the Resident Staff members in the halls to contact all of the students to confirm that they are here.  It is important that we have everyone stay put until we can complete that process.

For upperclass students, room changes are done on a first come -first served basis.  If you come to the Accommodations Office in Page House, starting at 8:00 a.m. on September 7th, you will be able to choose from the spaces that are available in the system (except for single room spaces -there is a waiting list for them that you can call and put yourself on now.).  We currently have 95 vacant spaces across grounds, so there is a selection of spaces to choose from.

For First Year students, room change requests are coordinated by the three First Year Area Coordinators.  There are a limited number of spaces available so the ACs have to work with all of the requests they receive and see if it’s possible to meet the requests that they receive.  The first priority however is to get first year student pairs to work through their issues.  One of the primary goals of the first year experience is to help students learn to live with someone who is different from themselves and to help students learn the skills to constructively work through conflicts.

Room Swaps are not allowed in First Year Housing

We’re already started receiving a few requests from students and parents asking if students can change their assignments if they can find someone else who is willing to switch rooms with them.  Please don’t pursue that avenue.  The intent of the First Year Experience is to have students randomly distributed throughout the First Year Housing Areas.  If we were to allow everyone to start switching places, it would subvert the intent of the process.  We receive a lot of requests that are really code for people wanting to work the system to arrange their assignment so that it’s in a place where they believe other people who are like them might be living.  All of those traditions and beliefs held by parents and older siblings about how things were in a particular location are no longer applicable and should not be believed (or even repeated).  They are not a true reflection of the current state.   All of the students living in first year areas are new.  The community that develops each year is entirely dependent on the students that live there now…  There is no carry over from one year to the next.  The community will be what you make of it.

I’m sure that it’s easy for you to find someone who will also want to trade spaces with you – no matter where you are.  Please…. don’t call and ask for that.  We are not able to accommodate those requests.

First Year Roommate Matching

We have received several calls this week from parents who have expressed the general concern that they want to be assured that their son or daughter will be assigned to live with someone who is “just like them”.  The categories of “just like me” covers whatever area the parent is concerned about.

We certainly understand the concerns that both students and parents have and the importance of having a good first year experience.  The purpose however of having all first year students live together and of having a random assignment process, is to try to make sure that for this one year, students learn to live with someone who is different than they are.  The limited number of matching criteria utilized in the program, by design, only cover basic lifestyle areas.  As a State institution, we do not and cannot collect information about religious backgrounds.  We also, intentionally don’t segregate students by any criteria.  The intent of the First Year Program is to give all students as diverse an experience/ exposure as possible.

If you feel that there are essential limits to your comfort zone that require that you have a roommate that has similar values on whatever issue that might be, I recommend that you look at the facebook groups that are likely to have been created by the members of the first year class.   Post what you are looking for and/or look at what other students have posted.  As long as you mutually request each other by the application deadline (June 4th), you will be put together.

I do hope that you will not worry so much about all the things that you cannot control.  You and your roommate are going to have to work on developing expectations for living with each other, no matter what your differences or similarities are.  It’s great if you and your roommate become best friends for life, but it’s also not something that always works that way, even with your best friend from home.  You will meet as many new friends as you want to once you arrive and move in.  Please be open to that and to meeting and making friends with people who are from different backgrounds and cultures.

Selecting a roommate…

For first year students deciding what to do, or what not to do in selecting a roommate is often a source of concern.  Recent research on roommate success found that there is no statistically significant difference between the three options:  1) Living with someone you already know, 2) living with a roommate that you select, but don’t know, and 3) a randomly assigned roommate.   Of the three options, Living with someone you already have a relationship with was the best of the three and selecting a random roommate was the lowest of the three.  The research showed that by the end of the spring semester, students who were living with someone they already knew did slightly better academically.

The real message is that no matter who you live with as a roommate, you need to plan to put some effort into talking about your needs and expectations for each other.  People want to believe that if a sophisticated matching program, that everyone would be able to avoid having a bad roommate experience.  If you look at the track record of even married couples, it’s clear that all relationships take work.  Once you know who you will be living with, start working on getting to know each other.  When you arrive in August, your RA will give you a roommate agreement form – take it seriously and go over it together.  What happens most commonly is that many roommates that report problems, don’t communicate at all about the issues or behaviors that bother them.  One roommate is upset, but doesn’t want to be seen as “uncool” by complaining and their resentment builds and then everything is bothering them.  The other roommate assumes that everything is fine, or is just oblivious to the subtle hints the other one makes.  In most cases, simply stating what the problem is is enough to resolve the issue.  You need to give your roommate a chance to respond.  Most people, if they care at all about their relationship with you, are willing to adjust what they are doing.  In any relationship, learning how to work through conflict is a necessary step.  If you can’t do that, you won’t ever really be able to get along.  You need to plan for disagreements and talk about how you’re going to discuss issues with each other.  Lay it out so that it you don’t have to see it as a confrontation or something big and negative.

Anyway, my bias, is if you have a best friend, it’s fine to live with them if that’s what you want to do.  I would also ask you to think about living with someone you don’t already know -and have your friend as someone that you can go visit and hang out with you want.  It will force both of you to get to know a broader circle of new friends and give you each the space you need to make changes.  You will change more during your first semester away from home than probably at any other time during your adult life.  Some of the problems friends have as roommates come from expectations based on who you were in high school and from being in the same circle of friends.  As those things change in a new environment, that can also create stress on old friendships.


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