Making the leap from structured family living to living on your own in college does not necessarily mean the rulebook goes out the window. If anything, developing a rulebook with that first roommate early on could be the key to a prosperous living arrangement.
First, it’s important to know who you’re going to be dealing with on a daily basis. If you’ll be living with assigned roommates in college, contact them as soon as their information becomes available so you can get to know them as much as possible before move-in day. Talk about your daily habits, such as if you’re a morning person, if you tend to do homework later at night, what time you usually go to bed during the week, etc. Knowing this information will be helpful when you start creating some guidelines for the room you’ll be sharing. If you’ll be rooming with a friend, it still wouldn’t hurt to have this discussion; although you may know each other well, chances are you have never actually lived together.
Once move-in day comes, you’ll have to establish some boundaries with your roommate, and it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Sit down together on that first day with a pen and paper to outline some rules that will help make living with each other as pleasant as possible. It’s a good idea to swap class schedules so you know who has to get up early or who might be coming home later during the evening. It’s also helpful to create some kind of policy about visitors. Establish a plan to let one another know ahead of time when someone is coming and how long the guest is staying so everyone can plan accordingly (especially if a boyfriend or girlfriend is coming to visit).
Another issue you’ll want to address is room upkeep, because you’re going to be responsible for cleaning a shared living space. Work out a cleaning schedule so nobody gets stuck doing all the chores. Once you’ve recorded some rules and boundaries, print some copies and post them in the room as a reminder for you and your roommate. If you feel the rules need to be modified, don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you’re living with a friend. Although rules don’t sound enjoyable, they could help tremendously in making your first living experience away from home a successful one.