Housing and Roommate Tips for New Students | University of Portland

Housing and Roommate Tips for New Students

This reflection was written by Kaylee, an RA at UP who graduated in 2022:

When I think back to being an incoming student at UP, one of the biggest things on my mind was who my future roommate would be and what living in a dorm would be like! For 18 years of my life at that time, I never had to share a space living just feet away from someone and was definitely nervous about it. Looking back four years later, I would describe my own first year roommate experience as pretty traditional and a good picture of what someone should expect. In a lot of ways, my relationship with my first year roommate worked great: we had lots in common, came from fairly similar backgrounds, and became friends rather quickly. However, our relationship, like many, was not without its bumps in the road. Reflecting on this experience, there are definitely things I wish I had known but learned and grew from! Since then, as a Resident Assistant on campus, I’ve seen and supported students through several roommate relationships. Here are some of my best tips for students preparing to start their time at UP with a roommate! 


  1. Be open to new perspectives. Understand that not everyone comes from the same background as you or does things the same way as you or your family. College is all about learning and growth and a lot of this happens at the roommate/dorm level when you are living in a brand new environment.
  2. Keep communication flowing. In any relationship, roommate or not, communication is oh-so-important! Know that what you don’t communicate to your roommate, your roommate will not know. Even when it may feel awkward to discuss things, no matter how small, speaking up is the only way to share things with your roommate and come to a solution. Even when things are going well, it’s important to communicate and share that with your roommate!
  3. Don’t run away from conflict. For a lot of people, conflict is scary. It can feel uncomfortable to have a different view or opinion from your roommate. Often times this leads us to settle for something we don’t actually want or trap our emotions until they can’t build up any further. There is such thing as good/healthy conflict and it’s important to work through it by having a conversation or reaching out to an RA for help. 
  4. Create and practice good boundaries. Healthy boundaries are important. As you grow and learn more about yourself, you will be able to set your own boundaries that work best for you. From there, you also need to communicate these boundaries to people in your life, including your roommate. Boundaries can look like things anywhere from needing personal space at certain times or being able to say no.
  5. Expand your circle! It’s definitely okay, and often so great, to be friends with your roommate. However, at the same time, it’s also good to put yourself out there and make other friends and connections. You will meet so many new people as you start college and your roommate is just one of them. Often times its easy to be best friends with the person you live with, but its also great to make other friends on your own or with your roommate too! 
  6. Fill out and discuss a roommate agreement! When you get to UP, one of the many pieces of information/paperwork you will receive is a roommate agreement form from your RA. This is document that you and your roommate will fill out after discussing things you will both agree upon within your room such as when lights should be turned out for the night, who will take out the trash when, etc. It will also include space for bigger conversations like expectations for friendship. It’s important to be honest when filling this out together and also to know that this document can be revisited and changed!
  7. It’s okay if things aren’t exactly as you expect. As you fill out your roommate profile and mark your preferences on residence halls, often times people mark the newest dorms on campus as their first choice. Know that it’s okay if you don’t get your first choice. So many of the older residence halls on campus are just as wonderful and charming as the newer ones and come with their own unique and special communities, often times even better than you might expect. This also goes for so many others things, often times you expect things that turn out different and learn so much about yourself in the process. 
  8. Get involved in your community. UP is such a unique and special place in terms of the level of community that exists. In your individual dorm hall, you will find a fun and vibrant community of people who are living the same life experience as you! It’s so helpful to get involved, be friendly to neighbors, attend events and get to know others outside of your room. These are the relationships that may end up lasting a lifetime and make the adjustment into college so much smoother!