Probably one of the biggest worries incoming freshman have is whether they'll get along with their roommate. A lot of people have had roommate horror stories and some college students even believe that the college experience isn't complete without at least one bad roommate story. Luckily, there are several ways to maintain the peace in a dorm - one of which is a roommate agreement.
Although there is no guarantee that a roommate agreement will always maintain the peace, it does allow the two of you to create a list of rules to follow. Things like keeping the dorm clean on a regular basis and taking out the trash once a week can all be documented in a roommate agreement.
Lets go over a few of the things that can be included in a roommate agreement:
A lot of people think it's a good idea to split food costs. After all, you spend less for the same amount of food... right? Well, that depends... In general, I would NOT suggest splitting the cost of food. For one thing, what if you're a meat lover and your roommate is a vegetarian... do you really want to help pay for food that you don't want to eat? And even if you and your roommate like the same kinds of food, what if your roommate is a total pig? If you do decide to split food costs, document it in your roommate agreement. Say who buys what and write down what types of food to split the costs for. Maybe you want to each pay half for the bottled water, but you're going to buy your own sandwich meat.... whatever it is you decide, don't forget to write it down in the agreement. After all, you don't want your roommate to "mistakenly" eat your favorite chips and dip.
Some people spend their entire summer crafting their perfect college wardrobe. As an incoming freshman, you may have planned out exactly how you want to dress and what you want to be seen in. Unfortunately, you may be stuck with a roommate that also wants to be seen in your clothes. If you don't want your roommate anywhere near your clothes say so in the agreement. Explicitly state that there will be NO SHARING of any clothes. However, this works both ways. So if you don't want to share your clothes, but you see your roommate in a great jacket you just have to try on, don't expect them to let you wear it either.
If you don't mind sharing, write down in the agreement what it is you're willing to share. Maybe you have no problem giving your roommate unlimited access to your collection of sweaters, but your jeans are completely off limit. If you do let your roommate borrow clothing, write down in the agreement that you want them to wash, dry clean, fold etc. your clothing. Also write down when you expect your clothing to be returned. For example, maybe you expect your clothes to be returned to you dry cleaned and folded back neatly in your dresser 1 week after borrowing. Whatever it is, write it down in the agreement and make sure that your roommate acknowledges it.