07/30/2014 10:09 am ET Updated Sep 29, 2014

What If I Don't Like My Roommate?

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By Barbara Greenberg for

This summer, all of the college freshman-to-be are anxious at least to some degree. Many of the young men and women I speak to all week long in my practice are panicked about the same issue: the stranger with whom they will be sharing the tiny space called a dorm room. They are worried about whether or not their roommate will like them or they will like their roommate. They are afraid of a myriad of issues including:

1. Whether or not their roommates will keep them up all night.

2. Whether or not their room will be a safe place free of drugs as well as loud and drunk roommates and their visiting friends.

3. Coming back to a room to find a roommate having sex in your bed.

The list goes on and on.

They ask me whether or not to select a roommate before school starts or to procure a roommate randomly, also known as doing it "rando."

There are benefits associated with each method.

Pre-selecting your roommate

I suggest that if your child is going to pre-select a roommate, then base it on the following:

1. Sleeping patterns

2. Study habits

3. Partying or lack of partying habits

These conditions are more important than choosing someone who you think might become a good friend. Your teen will make friends anyway and their roommate absolutely does not need to be their best friend.

Rando roommates

The benefit of going "rando" is that your son or daughter has no pre-conceived expectations and subsequently may be at lower risk to be disappointed. Many kids may also like the element of surprise.

Whether or not your child pre-selects a roomie or goes "rando," the fact is your kid may encounter roommate problems. If so, I suggest the following steps. Encourage your co-ed to follow these steps in the following sequence without parental involvement because they are trying to be independent, right?

1. Identify the problem.

2. Talk to his/her roommate calmly in an attempt to achieve resolution. Do not assume that the roommate is already aware of the problem.

3. Have your student determine your child is spending too much time in his/her room. If so, then your student may want to get space by spending time elsewhere. Hey, we all need space.

4. If tensions escalate and the two (or more) dread rooming together, talk to the Resident Advisor, whose job it is to help either resolve issues and/or to facilitate a room switch.

Keep in mind that the roommate drama, fears and anxieties have been going on for as long as kids have been going away to college. If there is a problem, it is highly likely that your child will find a way out of any situations and eventually enjoy a relaxed and comfortable roommate situation. Even more likely, your child will meet lifelong friends. Living together is a bonding experience like no other.

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