Roommates, Student Life

I Hate My Roommate: What To Do When Your Relationship With Your Roommate Goes Wrong

More often than not, you’ll find yourself in a disagreement with your roommate. While not every disagreement will end in a full-blown fight, there may be times when it will.  The only thing you can do is to prepare yourself for those times and to be ready for anything.

For example, say your roommate has been having their significant other over to your place too much.  When you go to talk to them about it, they get defensive and the issue never gets resolved.  Let’s say that after that point it gets very awkward around your place and you end up leaving each other notes, ignoring one another, and/or just not speaking.  What would you have to do?

In every case, you should always try to talk with your roommate again.  Avoid leaving passive aggressive notes for one another (you can see why that might not work on www.passiveaggressivenotes.com) and giving them the silent treatment.  It’s time to act like adults; you’re in college (or maybe out of college, depending on who’s reading this).  Take some time and plan out what you’re going to say to them.  Focus on how their actions make you feel and avoid making it about defects in their personality.

You also want to be sure to talk to them when you are calm and levelheaded; they won’t listen to you if you scream at them.  Be sure to detail your feelings, but also be sure to listen to what they have to say.  No matter what, try hard not to take things too personally or become too defensive; this only makes matters worse.  Instead, try to think logically about what they have to say; this means being able to criticize yourself.  What could you be doing to upset them?

If talking with them doesn’t seem to work and it only seems to make things worse, the only thing you can really do from there is to be civil to one another.  Maintain your consideration and respect for one another.  Being roommates doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be friends, or that you even have to like each other; just as long as you respect one another and are considerate, your relationship (or lack-there-of) can work.

While fighting with your roommate can be traumatic, it happens to a lot of people.  The only thing you can do is prepare yourself for those scenarios when it doesn’t work, and sometimes you do just have to concede that you don’t see eye-to-eye or that you just don’t get along.  Although it stinks when you and your roommate don’t get along, it is better that you both can at least come to an understanding and share mutual respect for one another and your space.

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Ask the Expert, College Planning, Finances

ASK THE EXPERT: College Financial Planning, Part 4

For the fourth installment of “Ask the Expert: College Financial Planning” series, we wanted to know how college housing choices effect financial aid decisions. To find out more, we spoke again with Mark Kantrowitz, college financial planning expert and publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com.

According to Kantrowitz, room and board are factored into the cost of college attendance, making it an expense covered by a student’s financial aid package. If a student chooses to live on-campus, their room and board would be based on the dormitory fees and the standard meal plan fee. If the student chooses to live at home with their parent(s) or guardian(s), rarely will they receive any financial aid for their housing accommodations.

If the student lives in an off-campus property (other than at home), the student will be afforded an allowance within their financial aid package to cover the cost of their housing. However, this price will be an arbitrary average rent price that is based on occasional rent surveys, and as Kantrowitz explains, universities are very reluctant to change these figures once they have been set. This means that if a student chooses to live in a property that is more expensive than the housing allowance, the university will not alter their allowance to accommodate the greater price. The only circumstances in which Kantrowitz sees this change being made is when the student has extenuating circumstances, such as a disability or having a dependent, which would require them to choose a more expensive residence.

For this reason, Kantrowitz advises students to try to stay within their budgets when it comes to off-campus housing. He explains “Just because you have an allowance that says you can pay up to this amount per month for rent, doesn’t mean that you should spend that amount. This is because in most cases the money that you’re spending on your living expenses is going to come in the form of loans, not grants.” By spending up to the allotted amount or above that amount, this will not only increase the student’s expenses per month, but it will also increase the amount of debt the student will have to pay off when they graduate.

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Housing Advice, Roommates, Student Life

How to Deal with Roommate Issues

Let’s be honest here:  You and your roommate(s) are never going to see eye to eye on everything.  Whether it is about doing dishes, who’s buying the paper towels, or whether they can have friends over at 12 am on a Tuesday night, things are going to come up that you just won’t agree on.  However, you certainly don’t want to end up in a bickering match or giving each other the silent treatment for the rest of the year.  This is why you need to be prepared before it comes time for you to have a talk.  In an article we read at MSN.com, they gave some tips on how to talk with your roommate when problems arise:

  • Avoid passive aggression.  The sticky note you leave your roommate detailing their wrong doings never goes over well (beware not get yourself on this site!).
  • Emphasize the positive.  Before you talk with your roommate, be sure to make a list of their positive qualities.   This will help to remind you what you like about them, and it will help keep you positive when you talk with them.
  • Consider how you could be contributing to the situation.  Usually issues in a relationship are never black and white.  Maybe your roommate never does the dishes because you never do.  You will want to consider how you could make changes too.
  • Be prepared.  NEVER GO INTO A SITUATION LIKE THIS UNPREPARED.  I repeat:  NEVER GO INTO A SITUATION LIKE THIS UNPREPARED.  This is perhaps the most important item on this list.  If you go into a situation like this with your roommate and you have not thought about what you are going to say beforehand, a myriad of (not-so-good) things can happen.  However, what will most likely happen is one of two things:  1) you won’t actually say what you meant to say, or 2) you won’t say it right and it will cause more friction between you and your roommate.  Be prepared!  Think about what you want to say and how you want to approach the situation.  You’ll also want to consider their possible reactions and how you will approach their responses.  You may even want to write down some notes and practice what you’ll say beforehand.  You don’t have to be afraid to talk with your roommate; you just have to be prepared.
  • Pick a comfortable location and time to talk.  You want to pick a time and place where both you and your roommate will be relaxed.  You may even want to set up a time with your roommate to talk with them.  This will help to prevent any outside influences (work, school, etc.) from affecting the outcome of your talk.
  • Be tactful, even-tempered, and clear.  Be clear about what you want to change, and make sure there are no “grey” areas.  You want to keep a cool head and be strategic about how you say what you need to say.  At least then one of you will be levelheaded.
  • Use “I” statements versus “you” statements.  Be sure to avoid focusing the discussion on what your roommate is doing wrong.  Instead focus on how the situation and their behavior makes you feel.  This way you’ll prevent them from shutting out what you are saying.
  • Don’t wait too long to talk to them.  Talk to them within a reasonable amount of time.  If your roommate had a party while you were away, you don’t want to wait 3 months after the fact.  Talk to them within a couple days of when you return.  This way it will be fresh in both of your minds, and it will prevent any future incidents.
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Roommates, Student Life

Choosing Your College Roommate: Why Rooming with Your Best Friend May Not be the Best Idea

When you head off to college, it is one of the scariest times in your life; you’re away from most of the people you know, you are living away from home, and you’re starting a whole new chapter in your life, all at once.  This may also be the first time you’ll be sharing a room with someone, and it can be an incredibly scary to think that you’ll be sharing a room with someone whom you don’t know.  You will immediately ask yourself “Who do I know that I could room with?”

In an article we read by Julie and Lindsey Mayfield on U.S. News and World Report, they explain that while it may be tempting, your first choice shouldn’t be your best friend.  While you feel like it may take a lot of the pressure off the situation, you may actually be putting more stress on the relationship.  This is because when you move away for school, you are not only trying to get used to living with someone else, but you are also just trying to get used to being away at school.  Considering all of this, it can end disastrously.

In another article we read by University Language Services, they explain that besides the fact that you may lose your best friend, there’s a myriad of other problems you can encounter.  First, your social life can take hit because you are often less likely to push yourself to make new friends.  Second, you may miss out on new experiences.  By choosing to room with your best friend you are less likely to seek out new friendships, and are therefore less likely to experience new people and new things. Third, your old habits will be harder to break.  When you live with your best friend you are more likely to hold onto your old habits and your more likely to stick to your old routine.  By living with new people, you could introduce yourself to new things that you might not otherwise have tried.  Lastly, your work ethic (and your bank account) are sure to suffer.  If you live with your best friend, you may end up spending more time socializing than you do on your schoolwork, as your room will double as a study and social area on a daily basis.   You will also most likely be going out more often, and so your wallet will suffer too.

Alternatively, many suggest that living with a friend (rather than a best friend), or even living with a stranger are better options than living with your best friend.  Not only will this experience expose you to new people and new things, but you friendships will remain in tact.

When you’re encountering any situation with a roommate, it’s always a good idea to set out a list of ground rules and expectations for the room beforehand.  In a previous post to our blog, we gave you a list of topics that may be useful to discuss with your roommate.  According to the Mayfields, you just have to realize sharing can get tricky, and that you have to open and honest when problems do arise. While you don’t have to be best friends, it is in the best interest of both of you to ensure that you can get along for at least the next year.

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College Planning

The “Going-Off-To-College” Essentials

Going off to college is, for many students, the first time you’ve lived away from home.  More often than not, you’ll probably be used to the comforts of home, where everything you could need is right at your fingertips.  That is why many are often confused as to what they actually have to bring when they start packing for college (so don’t worry, you’re not alone).

There’s a lot of considerations when it comes to what exactly you’ll be needing for the next nine months, so where do you start?  Well, while a lot universities will give you a basic checklist of what you’ll need, we put together a list of some of the things your school may include, and also some things they may not.

  • Microwave.  Most schools will allow you to have a microwave in your room.  You’ll definitely want to coordinate with your roommate beforehand to see who will bring what, but a microwave will be your best friend for those late night cram sessions.
  • Refrigerator.  Another dorm essential that you may want to coordinate on with your roommate.
  • Alarm clock.  In an article we read by Naomi Rockler-Gladen at Suite101.com, you will want to choose an alarm clock that is loud enough to wake you up.  You may also want to choose a battery-operated alarm clock, so if the power goes out in your building, you will still wake up in time for class.
  • Telephone.  Although a lot of students don’t go anywhere without their cell phone nowadays, you will still want to make sure that you have a cell phone with you when you move.  Rockler-Gladen says that you may also want to make sure that you have a plan that will fit your needs when it comes to making those daily phone calls to your friend in California.
  • Computer.  While a computer is not an absolute essential for college, it will make your life a lot simpler.  You’ll want to shop around for the computer that suits you best.  For example, if you’re trying to decide between a desktop and a laptop, you may want to consider where you want to do your studying.  Would you want to study in the library?  Would you want to bring your computer to class?  You’ll want to ask yourself questions like this to make the right decision for you.
  • Bathrobe.  If you’ll be living in a dorm with a bathroom at the end of the hallway, you will especially want to consider getting a bathrobe for those long walks back to your room.  Even if the bathroom is right next to your room, you’ll want to be sure that you won’t be giving your roommate a show.
  • Flip flops for the shower.  Trust us on this one:  you have no idea what is on that floor.
  • Shower caddy.  This makes those trips back and forth from the shower easier.  Pick a container that you can carry everything you’ll need in it, like shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.  You may also want to choose one that is waterproof so that you can take it right in the shower with you.
  • Basic hygiene materials.  Although it seems obvious, you’d be surprised what you’ll forget.  You want to be sure to bring shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.  Whatever you use on a regular to keep you clean you’ll want to bring with you.
  • Linens.  You may want to bring two sets of bed linens just in case one in is in the laundry.  You’ll also want to bring extra towels so that you don’t run into the same problem.
  • Cleaning materials.  Your best friend will be the disinfectant.
  • Medications and first aid.  You obviously will want to bring any medications you take on a daily basis.  But you also want to bring things like band aids, antibacterial ointment, antacids, cotton balls, etc.
  • Basic school supplies.  You’ll definitely need pens and pencils, but don’t forget things like printer paper, staplers, pencil sharpeners, and extra staples.  You may also want to get extra printer ink, in case you run out in the middle of printing out a paper the night before it’s due.
  • Good backpack.  Rockler-Gladen suggests that you get a backpack that you’ll be able to carry all your books and your essentials in.  If you’re bringing your computer to class, you may want to ensure that it will fit in your backpack.
  • Laundry materials.  You want to get laundry detergent, as well as a hamper and/or laundry basket to carry your clothes back and forth from the laundry room.
  • Rain jackets.  Trust us on this:  you’ll want a rain jacket with a hood.  You may also want to get a waterproof winter jacket if you’ll be somewhere where it snows.  We promise you when we say that you want to be prepared for all types of weather.  Remember that at most schools you’re classes will be in different buildings around campus.  That means that when it rains, you’ll have to walk through that.
  • Rain boots.  Again, you have to be prepared for everything.
  • Umbrella.  This is for the days where you could get away with just an umbrella, i.e. there isn’t wind accompanied with the rain.
  • Snow boots with treads.  Seems a little dorky, but trust us that you’ll need them.  If you’ll be in a place where it snows, you will want to make sure you don’t fall on your face walking to class.
  • Flashlight.  In case the lights go out or you lose something under your bed, you’ll want one of these handy.
  • Decor.  You’ll want to decorate your half of the room to remind you of home.  Don’t forget about those pictures that will get you through those long nights of studying.
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Roommates

7 Topics You Want to Discuss With Your Roommate(s)

Whether you’re subletting this summer or looking to move into a new place in the fall, you are bound to run into some issues with your roommate(s).  However, there are some things you can discuss with them beforehand that will help you nip some of these potential issues in the bud.

Music/TV

According to an article we read on ApartmentTherapy.com, if you’re sharing a room, you will want to discuss your tendencies when it comes to listening to music and watching TV.   Some people would prefer listening to music or watching TV with speakers, and other people would be fine with headphones.  You’ll want to see what each other’s preferences are and maybe come to a decision as to what times the speakers can be used.

Even if you aren’t sharing a room you want to be sure that you establish the use of the TV and/or stereo.  How will time be divided up amongst the roommates?  Will you have quiet hours?

Shared Items

In an article we read by Missy Slink in Yahoo! Voices, she explains that you will want to determine what items will be for community use and what items will not.  Will you share food?  If so, what foods will you be sharing?  Will you be sharing things like a vacuum?

You’ll also want to determine how and if you will be sharing things like toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning products.  Will you each buy your own?  Will you be splitting this, and if you do decide to split this, how will you divide the cost amongst the roommates?

Sleeping Habits

If you’re sharing a room, this is especially important to discuss beforehand.  If you’re roommate goes to bed at 10 pm and you go to bed around 3 am, you’ll want to establish how you will manage this.  Does this mean you’ll switch to a desk lamp to study?  Can you watch television when they go to bed?

If you each have your own room, you will still want to discuss this so that you can properly set quiet hours.  This way you won’t be disturbing someone while they are trying to sleep.

Guest Habits

When you’re sharing a space, you’ll want to figure out what the guest policy will be for your room/apartment.  If you plan on having a lot of friends over, or you have a significant other, you will want to figure out when they can come over, when they can’t, and when guests should go home.  You may also want to determine what the ground rules will be for guests in terms of using shared items.

Security

As someone who has had roommates who leave all the doors unlocked, this is definitely something you want to discuss beforehand.  If you are someone who likes to make sure everything is locked up when you run to get coffee, or when you go to bed at night, you will want to talk about that beforehand with your roommate.

Decorating

If you’re sharing a room, you’ll want to determine if you want to share room decorations, or you want to set up your own spaces.  If each have your own separate bedrooms, you will still want to establish decorations for the common areas.

Concerns

You want to establish beforehand how and when you will raise concerns with one another should they arise.  It may be a little awkward to establish this beforehand, but you don’t want to be that roommate who leaves passive aggressive notes around when they get frustrated.  That won’t end well.

By establishing some ground rules beforehand and making sure you can live comfortably together, this will help you have a better roommate experience.  Just remember:  the space belongs to both of you.

For tips more tips on how to ensure fairness between you and your roommate(s), check out Splitwise and their blog at http://blog.splitwise.com/

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Housing Advice, Student Life

How to decide between on or off campus housing

We know it’s a big decision to make whether or not to live off campus, and we hope to be able to guide you through the decision process.  There are a few major questions to ask yourself when you are looking at the two options and seeing which is right for you.

First you have to look at the costs associated with both.  If cost is important to your decision (which for a lot of people it is) you have to make a list of all the costs that both options would entail.  For on campus housing you would need to look at the cost of the actual housing, meal plans if you would need one, and any other board fees associated with being on campus.  For off campus housing, you need to consider the actual rent (this is going to involve some research, rents vary greatly between areas), the utilities (if they are not included) and other costs such as furniture, internet, cable, parking, groceries, and transportation costs to get to campus, etc.  Once you are able to estimate the costs of both options, you will have a better feel for which option will be more viable for you.

Other things to consider when looking at the two options are what you are getting for your money.  If you are getting a tiny room in a dorm and you have to share with a roommate, compared to a larger room to yourself in an apartment that can influence your decision.  Or if you are able to get a really nice on campus townhouse style suite then it might not be that bad of a deal to stay on campus.  Also, you should consider factors associated with meal plans, like if you feel you do not eat in the dining hall enough for a meal plan to be worth it, then maybe grocery shopping for yourself in an apartment would be a cheaper option.  But on the other side, if you typically eat your parent’s out of house and home, then maybe an all-you-can-eat dining hall would end up being cheaper in the long run.

Once you have weighed the costs of both options and how they compare with each other, there are other things to consider with both options.  Convenience is another big thing to look at.  For example, an article discussing Boston University’s off campus housing discusses how off campus housing is often way more convenient for students.  (Read the full article here). The article talked about how for some students it is easier to live off campus because of scheduling, study abroad, and other reasons.  For some, because of classes or other activities, it is more practical to live on campus. Like if you have all of your classes spread out throughout the day, and would have to drive back and forth to campus a couple of times a day it might not be worth it to live off.  For others, it is more convenient to live off campus, like if you would otherwise always miss dining hall hours because of a late activity that runs through dinner then maybe it is easier to live off campus and cook for yourself when you need to.

Either way you decide to go, as long as you make sure you plan ahead and do your research, you’re going to have a great school year with your friends and hopefully JumpOffCampus made the process a little bit easier for you all.

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