Helping Your Student Navigate Roommate Relationships
Back in July, all our residence hall students were anxious to hear who their roommates would be for the upcoming year. Now, everyone is settling into the halls and learning how to live with each other. For some, this will be an exciting experience with more highs than lows. For others, it can be frustrating or overshadowed by anxiety. Whatever your student’s experience may be, you can help him or her create a positive roommate relationship.
1. Set Expectations – The first step in creating a positive living environment is to create expectations. University Housing requires all roommates to complete roommate agreement forms. The purpose of these forms is to initiate conversations between roommates about the “rules” for their room. Are guests allowed over? If so, how long? How late can the TV be on each night? What things can we share? What is off limits? Some questions may seem silly to residents, but unless they have a conversation, they are not going to know the other person’s perspective about a situation. Maybe one roommate comes from a home where he has 5 siblings and shared everything, but his roommate is an only child who hasn’t had the opportunity to share his space with anyone. These two students will likely need to compromise to create a living environment that is comfortable for both of them.
2. Embrace Conflict – There is no better way to learn and develop in college than through conflict. As parents/guardians, we want the best for our children and hate to see them struggle. It feels really good to jump in and solve their problems; however, that doesn’t always teach our students the skills they’ll need to be successful in life. When your student is struggling with her roommate, challenge her to embrace the conflict. Has she spoken to her roommate about the problem? Does the roommate understand her perspective and does she understand the roommate’s perspective? Have they been able to develop a plan to address the situation? What are their next steps? How will they know the conflict is resolved? By helping your student through this process, you’ll not only be helping her resolve the situation, but you’ll also be teaching her problem solving skills.
3. Ask for Help – Sometimes roommates need help solving their problems. Oftentimes, they will come to you for guidance and support. Your support is invaluable to them. It’s important to know that you have a team in each residence hall that is on your side in supporting your student. Each student has a Resident Assistant (RA). The RA’s primary job is to care about your student. The RA can talk to your student about the problem, offer advice, listen, mediate conflicts, offer campus resources, explain room change processes, or anything else your student may need. The RA lives on your student’s floor and can be reached daily by stopping by his/her room. There are additional RAs available each night at the front desk from 8pm-12am. If the roommates cannot solve the problem with the assistance of the RA, there is a Hall Supervisor that lives in each building who can provide additional resources and support. Hall Supervisors hold office hours in the building each week. Encourage your student to use the staff who are there to support them.
4. Communicate – The most important skill in any situation is communication. Encourage your student to maintain open communication with his roommate. This will help avoid many conflicts, and when needed, it will help solve them. As our students work to become independent adults, they will continuously develop their communication skills. Encourage this development while embracing the conflict that is providing the opportunity to grow!
Housing contracts are for a full academic year (fall and spring semesters). However, University Housing offers automatic releases from contracts for ONLY the following circumstances:
- Student teaching/internships outside of Watauga County
- Withdrawals from the university
- Study abroad
Beginning September 1, students who qualify for automatic release must visit housing.appstate.edu to complete the auto release form. To avoid spring semester housing charges, forms must be submitted by November 13. Please provide required documentation to verify the reason for release. Email notifications will be sent to students’ @appstate.edu email accounts to confirm or deny requests.
Freshman students may request a room change starting on September 5. A link to the room change form can be found at housing.appstate.edu. This link will close on November 10; after this date, students can request a Pre-Spring Room Change (described below).
Continuing students (transfers and upperclassmen) should contact University Housing at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a room change.
Pre-Spring Room Change
Sometimes students are unhappy with their room assignments but do not want to disrupt their academics by moving in the middle of the semester. In an effort to help students have a more positive experience, University Housing offers pre-spring room change. Through this process, any student is able to request a new room assignment for the spring semester. Students visit housing.appstate.edu to make a request from October 30-November 13. Once the request is received, UH determines, based on availability, whether or not the request can be accommodated. Students will be notified of their room change status via their @appstate.edu email by mid-December.
Students who are approved for pre-spring room change must complete the following steps before leaving for winter break:
- Remove all belonging from current room
- Check out of current building with an RA
- Return current room key
- Take all personal items home over winter break
- No items may be stored in old or new assignment
When returning for Spring semester, students will check into their new assignments.
But Mom and Dad, there is nothing to do in my residence hall!
Have you recently had a conversation with your student that sounded like this? University Housing sponsors a Hall Council in each of the 20 residence halls. Hall Council is a group of residents who act as the governing body of their hall. Hall Councils represent their building in homecoming events, manage a budget, plan and organize programs within the building, and advocate for student concerns through the Residence Hall Association. Hall Council is a way for your student to gain valuable leadership experience and meet other students in his/her residence hall and across campus. So, there are things to do in a residence hall! If you need more reasons to encourage your son or daughter to join Hall Council in his/her building, here are the top 10 reasons to join hall council:
- Make friends throughout the whole building
- Develop leadership skills.
- Receive funds from University Housing to plan events for your hall.
- Make a difference in your residence hall and the University.
- Compete in RHA’s Hall Council Community of the Year Competition against the 18 other hall councils.
- Get to know people from across campus by attending RHA meetings and events.
- Make valuable connections with staff throughout the university.
- Be able to attend Leadership Conferences and represent App State at the State, Regional, and National Conferences.
- Put on programs to create community in your building
- Have more people to follow on Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat!
Encourage your son or daughter to ask his/her Residence Director (RD) when the next Hall Council meeting is scheduled for his/her residence hall. Your next conversation may be “Mom and Dad, I have so much to do in my residence hall!”