Are you ready for college life? If you're heading off to live in a dorm, odds are you'll be sharing a fairly small room with another person. This may be the first time you've ever had to share "your" space with someone else. You may have bunked with a sibling when you were a toddler, but this will be different. You'll be with a peer who is just as used to having her or his own space and habits as you are. And you won't have Mom around to set and enforce the rules.
Even if you're planning to room with a friend from home, living together will not be just like hanging out in your free time. In fact, it may be better to take your chances on someone assigned to you by the college. Fill out that roommate preference questionnaire they send you honestly, and hope for the best. After all, becoming dorm roommates has ruined many an existing friendship. If you spend most of your time together even when you're not in the dorm, the relationship can become pretty intense. You might also be cutting yourself off from new friends and new experiences.
Whether you room with someone you've known for years, someone you've messaged with for a few weeks, or someone you don't meet until you lug your belongings into the dorm, it's important to set ground rules -- in writing. Many colleges provide a workbook or roommate agreement form for you and your roommate to fill out. Talk about things frankly. This is not a time to be overly polite and say that you're fine with whatever. Work to set rules that won't be burdensome for either of you. A little give and take early on will pay dividends for months.
Keep reading for rules that address issues that often turn into problems.