Move In, Friday, Pollock Halls

Students and their families push loaded carts as they move into Pollock Halls on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020.

So, you got assigned with a random roommate. Congratulations! Whether it’s your first year living in East Halls or your senior year at an off-campus apartment complex, this is a great opportunity to make a new friend and learn about living with other people.

You’ve likely already contacted this person and maybe talked about your major or your hometown. But you’re going to live in close quarters with this person for at least the next few months, so it’s important that every party is on the same page about a number of topics.

Before you move in this August, make sure to discuss these topics with your roommate.

What will you bring?

Let’s face it — college dorms and apartments tend to be small, so one of the best ways to conserve space and save money is by sharing things.

Before you move in, make a list of large items you plan on bringing to school, such as area rugs, furniture, electronics and small appliances.

Have a conversation with your roommate about your individual contributions so you both know what the other plans on bringing. This will help avoid a situation where you find yourselves with two toasters and zero plates.

What is your schedule?

During my freshman year, my roommate had 8 a.m. classes four days a week. Meanwhile, my class schedule often didn’t start until noon. Because of this, she woke up before me, and I went to bed after her.

Compare your class and extracurricular schedule with your new roommate so you both know when to expect the other to be home.

You should also discuss weekly events either of you may need your space for, such as hosting a TV viewing party on Sunday nights or an important Zoom meeting on Thursday afternoons.

How will you use this space?

Everyone living in your dorm or apartment will use it in a slightly different way.

While many people like studying in bed or at their own desk, some may come home to sleep. Some people might plan on inviting friends over on a daily basis, while others will only see friends outside of their living space.

Make sure to tell your roommate your plans for using your shared space and ask about their plans as well so you both know what to expect.

This is especially crucial when you have to work through complex issues like alcohol or inviting partners to stay the night.

What is your vaccination status?

With coronavirus cases rising rapidly across the country this summer, this is one of the most important questions to ask a new roommate in 2021.

It would be preferable if Penn State required the vaccine for students living on campus like over 500 schools across the country are doing. In the meantime, ensuring everyone in your living space is on the same page regarding vaccines is the best thing you can do to prevent transmission of the virus.

Many people have politicized the topic of vaccinations, so tread carefully, but remember it is perfectly legal to ask for anyone’s vaccination status. It is also an effective way to advocate for the safety of yourself and those around you.

If you and your roommate find yourselves disagreeing on vaccines and other coronavirus safety measures such as masking or social distancing, you have a couple of options.

While it is easy to apply for a room switch through eLiving, the first thing you should do is make a roommate agreement to find a middle ground for both of your concerns. All parties must consent to the agreement and sign it.

Getting a random roommate assignment can be one of the most exciting parts of college — I met one of my best friends in college through a random assignment. And while some of these discussions may be nerve-racking, it's important to navigate topics like these to ensure the best possible transition into your new shared living space.

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