Prepare Your Teen for a New Social Life at College
A whole new world awaits your soon-to-be college freshman! In addition to academics, there’s a new social life at college -- dorm life, a roommate, parties, and clubs to join. As you’re making lists of what to buy and what to pack, take time to talk with your teen about how to make friends in college, the pitfalls to be aware of, and how to take advantage of all that college has to offer.
Connecting with Her New College Roommate
Your teen and her college roommate don’t have to be best friends, but it helps if they can get along. Your teen probably wonders what her roommate will be like. Will she be friendly or shy, messy or neat? Will she study a lot or party hardy? Will they be best friends for life or just tolerate living together?
When it comes to dorm life, it pays to be proactive! Encourage your teen to:
- Reach out to her future roommate as soon as she receives her contact information. If she can arrange to meet her roommate in person before heading off to campus, all the better. If not, email, phone, and video chat are all good options.
- Clear the air about shared expectations. In addition to figuring out what each plans to bring to their shared dorm room ( “You bring the fridge, I’ll bring the microwave”), your teen and her new roomie should talk over their expectations about staying up and waking up, partying, having guests over, cleanliness, and borrowing each other’s things. (These are the most common conflicts, but they may not be the only ones.)
- Don’t fret about her roommate becoming her best friend. Many students wonder if they’ll become good friends with their roommates. The reality is some are and some aren’t. Some start out the school year spending a lot of time together and then drift apart. The important thing is to learn to get along in the small space they’ll be sharing, and to be respectful of each other.
- Research her resources for resolving roommate disputes. Remind your teen to check in with her dorm resident advisor ( “RA”), who can help resolve any disputes between roomies, should the need arise. Your teen can also check her student handbook to find out what the college’s policy is on resolving disputes between roommates.
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