10 College Roommate Issues And Solutions

This is not a new topic to anyone who is enrolled within an educational institution that includes boarding. Having roommates can be as painful as it gets then, on the other hand, it all depends on how you approach situations as they arise.

You may be a freshman and don’t know what to expect in having a roommate. The key in this situation is to be open-minded and not to approach your roommate with any preconceived ideas. In fact, discuss areas of concern as soon as you both move in together regarding what both of you are comfortable with etc.

The reality is that sometimes no matter how you try it is just difficult when trying to work things out with some persons. The decision to move out should be your last resort as the aim is to learn and try to live with other pe

Funny enough that most of our lives we find ourselves living with other people. It could be family members, spouse or even our children and sometimes they do stuff that gets on our last nerves.

Here I have compiled some of the most common issues that college students face when it comes to living with a roommate and some approaches that can be taken to best resolve the issue and not let them escalate to a point where one may be dragging the other by the hair.


I am starting off with one of the most common issues and that is of cleaning. Believe it or not but some persons don’t like to clean and will never clean unless you set some boundaries or ground rules.

You may find that when you want to use the kitchen sink it is all packed with dirty dishes, the room or bathroom is never cleaned when you want to use it, you hardly have space for your things because they have their clothes and other items all over the room.

You even find balls of hair all over the bathroom, a trail of mud all over the apartment or the entire place just smells like a pigs sty.

You may be a clean freak or not, but this situation will make almost anybody feel uncomfortable unless you are of similar nature with your roommate.

How To Deal With It:

  1. This is a situation for you to be confrontational but not hostile and aggressive towards your roommate. You need to express how you feel about having to always be cleaning up after the person.
  2. Before starting college, your roommate may have had parents doing all the cleaning for him or her. Make it know that you prefer to have your side of the room remain how you left it “CLEAN”.
  3. Both of you can make a schedule on things that needs to be done each weekend or cleaning date. This will help your roommate to follow through.
  4. If the problem is consistent, you may need to bring this to the attention of your dorm administrator or simply move out if you are living off-campus halls. You always have a choice.


Just drawing some scenarios where you be affected by noise. Your roommate may be studying music and as a result, he or she continuously practice playing his or her musical instrument or practices singing.

It may even be that the person talks loudly for long hours on the phone or listens to music, watch videos or play games with audio volumes high not considering whether or not you are studying or trying to get some rest.

Sometimes all you want is to be able to come home from all the stress and have some peace of mind.

In fact, I had a roommate that usually plays music while I was studying and trying to get some assignments done. When I told her it was very distracting and if she could turn it down her response was that I should learn to multi-task. Imagine that! Eventually, she started using her earphone when she saw how upset I was about it.

How To Deal With It:

  1. The first thing that you will want to do is ask your roommate to tone down their voice when talking on the phone or turn down volumes when listening to audios.
  2. You may want to invest in some really good earphones for yourself and encourage your roommate to get some for listening to audios.
  3. When it comes to sleeping at nights you can use ear plugs but don’t make this usage a regular habit as you want to be alert of your environment.
  4. If your roommate plays an instrument you can encourage him or her to utilize the music building of your school to practice most times or join the choir where he or she can get enough voice practice and training.

Light and Sleep Schedule

Everyone may not be the same when it comes to the time that they go to bed and the time that they get up. If you and your roommate are on the same schedule that is great.

The time of studying, and time slots to get assignments completed are different for many students, and as a result, this can pose an issue.

You may be a morning person in that you find it more productive to get up early and get your studying done or a night person in that you are able to stay up late in the nights to complete your work. There are so many ways that you can work around this issue.

You both need the lights so you can see what you are doing but this is an issue for your roommate who cannot sleep when it’s turned on. There are so many ways that you can work around this issue.

How To Deal With It:

  1. The first thing that you will need to do is discuss the issue with your roommate. Getting enough rest is a very important issue but you don’t want to go blind studying in the dark.
  2. Get a table lamp- Instead of having the ceiling lights on you can turn down the brightness in the room when you are at the desk using this lamp. You can also invest in some blindfolds.
  3. Use a thick curtain to divide the room so that your roommate can have some darkness on their side when you are up using the light.
  4. If it is an apartment flat, you could take your studying into the living room or kitchen area.


It can really be a pain when your roommate is always around. On the other hand, it may be that they are never there which can then make you feel lonely and not have any bonding time with him or her.

Your roommate has equal rights to being in the room at all times. The state of privacy requires being free from the observance and disturbance or attention of other people.

You may just need some alone time to think, do something like exercise, have a devotion or complete a task without any distractions,  You may just need a break.

Not a matter of secrecy that you will be doing any forbidden activity and have something to hide. I get it you just want time for a little solitude. Having some great ideas following when you can step back and listen to the orchestra of life.

How To Deal With It:

  1. On campus, there are many quiet places that you can find allowing you the solitude that you desire. You or your roommate do not always have to stay in your room and study but can utilize places such as the library, student lounge, under a shed or some trees where not many students are likely to be present.
  2. It could be the case that your roommate is an introvert, don’t have any friends they can hang out it or just not involved in any extracurricular school activities and finds the room as a haven of safety. You can encourage your roommate to be involved in clubs and get their college life going.
  3.  Sometimes you just have to ignore the fact that your roommate is there and do your thing. Let nothing deter you from accomplishing that which you will.

Personal Hygiene

The issue of personal hygiene is a very delicate issue. It is pretty much not your business but if it is affecting you and you care about your roommate then it will be of concern to you.

It could be smelly clothes, not brushing teeth or showering to the point that the room actually starts smelling a bit stale.

You don’t want to offend the person or hurt their feelings so what do you do? Maybe it is since lately that your roommate situation started to get out of control.

How To Deal With It:

  1. The first step is to talk to your roommate about the condition. Be caring when expressing your concerns and be careful with your choice of words.
  2. Be observant if it is the case that the person cannot afford to purchase deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, wash their clothes etc. You can offer a small gift with these necessities.
  3. Be open for any reaction. The person may become offensive and shut you out or is appreciative for your advice.
  4. You can never tell it may be a medical condition (infection etc)  that the person is experiencing causing the stench.  or it may be that the person is even experiencing some rough life issues with family or others.
  5. If the person gets depressed or the situation worsens, they may need to seek professional help.

Having Friends Over or for Sleepovers

Your roommate is always having friends over whether or not you are there and without your consent.

You may even come home and find them bunking in your bed. It may even reach to the point that their friends are sleeping over.

Your roommate may even have their boyfriend or girlfriend presence ever in your space. So you are paying to have that living space and now you feel robbed and annoyed.

If you live off campus your roommate may even want to throw parties and have all the works. You want to maintain a good relationship with your roomie and not having to get others involved especially their guest.

How To Deal With It:

  1. You want to talk to your roommate about the situation and how uncomfortable you feel about it. You can comprise and strike a deal that twice per term is all that is allowed for sleepovers as in the future you may also want to invite your friends over. You also want to know before the time when the visitor is coming.
  2. Boyfriends sleeping over is pretty awkward so tell it as it is you are not comfortable. If no changes are made you can report the matter to the hall dean.
  3. If there are other options for doing all nighters like staying in the library all night to work on their project or staying in the living room area so you can enjoy your rest then make your suggestions.
  4. For off campus, throwing parties can arouse the interest of the cops and also disturb neighbors. Ensure you are not there when things go down or in fact, you can call the cops to get the party shut down if you need to. You might be hated after this but who wants to be sleeping in class for the rest of the week and get bad grades!
  5. Take advantage of the weekends when your roommate is not there.

Smoking or Drinking

It may be that many times your roommate gets drunk and you have to keep bailing him or her out from getting knocked out at a party or clean up from the vomiting or other messes.

You may not even smoke and the cigarette, marijuana or whatever the person is smoking is affecting you.

You know the health effects of smoking and drinking and do want to be in a healthy environment. Here are some ideas to address this.

I have had the experience sitting at the back of a class and a student came in that was high on marijuana sitting beside me. The scent was so awful that I had to get up and find another seat elsewhere. Here are some ideas to address these issues.

How To Deal With It:

  1. The first thing that you need to do is to talk to your roommate about the problem. While the person has freedom of choice to smoke or drink this is in your space and is affecting you.
  2. You can give the person a chance to stop the behavior but if not stopped and you catch them doing it, then you can report it to the dean for your dorm.
  3. The use of drugs on many campuses is illegal so familiarize yourself with the rules of your school and point it out to your roommate. This may evoke some change.
  4. You can also ask your roommate to take the smoking and drinking on the outside or have smoke alarms installed in your room.
  5. If your roomie does crazy things after drinking like getting knocked up, driving crazy or ill-treated by strangers, you can try hiding the beers.
  6. Always remember you still have the choice of looking for somewhere else to live or they may be the one having to leave.


You are so hungry going home and longing to go eat the last slice of cake from which you left in the refrigerator but to reach home and realize that it is gone.

It is not only about food but using your personal items like cologne, lotion or wearing your hats, shoes or even a bag. Sounds crazy right! Well, this is the reality that takes place in many dorms.

Am sure you will not go putting food poisoning in your food items or putting lice or ants in their clothes as I heard some colleagues threatening they will do to their roommates.

Once I had some chicken in the fridge and when I got home 2 pieces were missing. My roommate denied taking any. I thought I was going crazy but then more stuff started disappearing I had to get confrontational and take action.

I used a little psychology by saying “I am going to the landlord because he has a spare key for the room and someone is taking our stuff while we are not here” this was the point that she panicked and try to encourage me not to go…..obviously! Here are some other ideas that you can try to deal with the issue

How To Deal With It:

  1. You do not want to attack or jump to conclusions accusing your roommate even if it is just the both of you that share the space.
  2. The first thing that you would want to do is talk or ask about the missing items with your roommate. If he or she admits it then they may apologize or give reasons why they took it. Here is the opportunity to tell how you feel. If he or she does not admit it then you can use a little psychology just as I did and hopefully it won’t happen again.
  3. You can keep your things locked away in a suitcase and put a lock on it. You will sort of be living from it.
  4. Separate your belonging by having separate shelves, drawers, cupboards or space to store your food or other items. This may lessen confusion in taking your stuff.
  5. If you just can deal with it no longer decided to catch him or her in the act with proof by deliberately leaving your stuff out and set up a camera.

A Different Lifestyle

The issue of sexuality is a very touchy one. I have never experienced this but have friends who do so I went to them to get some advice on how they handled the situation.

There are many fears and myths that people hold towards homosexuals. I see where persons have their own utensils because they fear using the same feeling it may be contaminated.

Some even fear that their roommate will become attracted to them and they too will be branded as gay for the rest of their college life.

How To Deal With It:

  1. You can always express your concerns and beliefs about the situation. Don’t expect the person to change as he or she may feel offended. This will allow the person to know where you stand and not impose their practices your way.
  2. If your roommate is checking you out and doing crazy things like undressing in front of you or walking around naked making you feel uncomfortable, you can ask your RA to move you to another room.
  3. You can tolerate it and not accept it. Who says you even have to tolerate it. You can move out.
  4. You can also not hang out with your roommate to be branded in that category. Just chill with your usual friends, however, it is good to be friends. It is always good to know that he or she can have someone there even if you disagree with their lifestyle.
  5. See this as an opportunity for you to develop some people skills. Your roommate is a human being and you should treat him or her as such not mattering their sexuality. In fact, you cannot avoid homosexuals believe it they are everywhere even in many families and you will have to work with them.
  6. Within every negative situation you may experience look for the positive. Your roommate may just be one of the nicest persons you ever meet.

Being Mean

You may be from a home where there is a lot of love and care shown to others. Well, the idea of treating others as you would like to be treated is not where the minds of many are.

There are those who cultivate a spirit of selfishness. They desire to not do anything good for others but will take, take and take all that they can.

Yep you will even have those who want to live off your budget. They leave you to pay the bills and buy most of the food while contributing little to nothing at all.

It may even be the case that you are doing  a class that they did a term ago and you would like some help in understanding the nature of an assignment but they would rather you get a “B” instead of an “A”.

Your roommate may never even invite you out with their friends or share anything until he or she desires YOUR help.

How To Deal With It:

  1. Talk to your roommate that you noticed his or her being mean and you wonder what could be the cause. It could be that an event or something between you two has triggered the behavior.
  2. You never can tell maybe the person is being stingy because he or she is not able to afford as much as you can.
  3. Be kind to the person even if they are mean. this may evoke a sense of sharing in the individual and show that you care about them.
  4. If being mean escalates to aggressive and violent behaviors towards you, your  roommate may need professional help. Refer the situation to your RA.

I hope you find the strategies mentioned useful. You can leave your comments and questions in the box below as I  anticipate hearing what you have experienced and how you handled it.





  1. Hello Nichole and I know that I would Not want to be sharing a dorm room at a College and or University with a Roommate that is having sex with who they invite into the Room. I also would Not like a Roommate that steals things.

    • Happy that you found this post Gavin. The thing about sharing room at times is that the school just place persons together.
      College students often times don’t know what they are up against until they meet their roommates.
      If you have a friend that you know well then you can decide to be roommates. Still…..be open for anything. Not to agree with but to come to some sort of agreement.

  2. Krystal

    How does one handle a situation in which you are paired with a hearing impaired roommate and your not notified prior to move in. Its caused issues in regards to the smallest things bothering her and her being loud and using her disability as a reasoning behind it. How is this fair to the other roommate who isn’t disabled.

    • Well, this can cause tension and undue stress for the other roommate. The fact remains that both are now living together without the notification. When persons are hearing impaired most times they are unaware of how loudly they are speaking. I know that it would not be fair to put two disabled persons to live together. See it as an opportunity to help or aid the person. It can get frustrating at times depending on the situation but do share more on what you mean when you say the smallest things bother her.

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