Freshman Roommates: Who Brings What for Your Dorm

Two college students standing and smiling for picture taken inside their dorm room.

Flickr User: William Brawley

For your freshman year of college, you will likely have a roommate. Possibly more than one! While you’re still in high school, fantasizing about college life and decorating your dorm room, you may come to a halting question: who brings what? We’re here to help you make the initial contact with your roomie and decide on a list of things for each roommate to bring.

Step One: Initial Contact

You need to decide on who is bringing what so be sure to follow the list provided below. Many colleges now offer roommate matching services. You typically fill out a questionnaire about your personality and living quarters preferences. I remember my survey was rather in-depth, being several pages long and varying degrees of agreement with the statements. It considered your dorm preference, the temperature you like your room, wake and bedtime, social preferences, and much more. From there, you were matched with other same-sex students who were compatible with your scores. Most of the lists are long, depending on the size of your campus. It then becomes up to you to send them messages via their portal, email,  or Facebook “creeping.” Most schools also still have a completely random roommate match, where they assign a roommate for you. If the connection works after having a conversation via email, phone, or in person, you can be roommates!

Step Two: Roommates. Now What?

Now that you’ve found a roommate, it’s time to start thinking about actually living together. Discuss some ground rules you would like each other to follow in your dorm room. After that, decide what items and furniture you deem appropriate for the dorm room. This will help you decide what items each of you needs to bring to make your space for the next nine months welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable.

Step Three: Divide the List on Who Brings What

Now that you’ve made the list of things you want in your dorm room, it’s time to decide who brings what. It’s possible you’re the first in your family to go to college while your roommate has had four siblings go through college and has great knowledge and leftover items to bring. After deciding what you want to be in the dorm room, decide what items are shareable. It’s unlikely you will share shampoo with your roomie, but illogical and nearly impossible to have two minifridges. A sample list of “large” items your roommate and you will split include:

  • Futon or other seating
  • Mini-fridge
  • Microwave
  • TV
  • Coffee maker
  • Bulletin board
  • Fan
  • Printer

If neither of you have these items, do some research and write down what these items typically cost. From there, divide the list so each roommate will pay as close to equal as possible. Discuss if there is an item one of you would like to keep in the future if you do not room together again.

Step Four: Move-In Day

You made it to move-in day! You’re excited, nervous, and sweaty (nothing like an airless dormitory on an August day.) It is likely you might feel stressed out from the long line of cars outside your dorm, construction on campus, and your parent’s endless questions. Do you know what you don’t have to worry about, though? Your materials! You coordinated with your roommate, followed our super awesome packing list, and have everything ready to go. Now if only the boxes would unpack themselves…