College is a time for new experiences and personal growth, but entering a new environment can be intimidating for incoming first-year students. One of the most nerve-wracking experiences can be living with roommates, especially if it’s your first time sharing a space with others. For many students, however, living in a dorm with roommates is a right of passage — an essential aspect of the college experience. While it can undoubtedly be challenging, having a roommate can also make for a memorable first year. With that in mind, here are a few tips on what you should and shouldn’t do to help foster a cooperative and enjoyable environment.

Do: Get to know your roommate

Communication is key to having a good relationship with your roommate, especially if you are just meeting them. Go hang out with them, grab dinner at the dining hall or walk around campus. Get to know who you will be living with and talk about shared hobbies and interests. You and your roommate should become familiar with each other’s boundaries from the get-go. Everybody comes to college with different expectations about their living space, so getting them out in the open from the start will help prevent any initial frustrations from growing and save you both from a lot of conflict in the future.

Don’t: Hog the room 

Yes, it’s your space too. However, it can be frustrating to have a roommate who never leaves the room. It’s often difficult to have any alone time or personal space in college, so try to be mindful of this and not spend your entire day inside. Besides, it’s good to get out of your living space to study, make new friends or explore parts of campus and the surrounding area. Give your roommate time to have the room to themselves. This may be more of an unspoken rule, but it can help maintain a good relationship with your roommate, prevent any negative emotions from festering and even get you more comfortable with on-campus living.

Do: Ask before inviting people over 

Even if you know your roommate is comfortable with it, it’s still polite to ask before having any guests over, especially if they will be staying for more than a few hours. Check with your roommate and see if they are okay with having people in the room at that moment. Who knows, maybe they need the room for quiet study time or just want to nap without being disturbed. Doing this can be the most respectful way to have visitors, so don’t forget to ask and give your roommate a heads-up.

Don’t: Be super messy 

While these expectations may look different for everyone, keeping your space clean will help maintain a comfortable living environment and mutual respect between you and your roommate. Try to keep your side of the room as organized and clean as possible. Remember that if you keep your space cluttered, your roommate could be affected by it — even if the mess is confined to your side. A messy space can be stressful and overwhelming to live in and may even impact one’s ability to focus. Staying organized can help you both succeed, and your roommate will really appreciate it.

Do: Actively communicate 

You and your roommate probably won’t get along perfectly, even if you follow these tips. If any frustrations arise throughout the year, communicate them to your roommate as soon as possible. Confronting issues as they arise is necessary to maintain a good relationship. If your roommate does something that upsets you, letting them know can prevent the issue from becoming bigger than it has to be. Similarly, make sure to actively listen to any concerns your roommate may have about the living situation and try to be understanding. Even if there are no apparent issues, occasionally checking in with your roommate will create a more comfortable space and keep a line of communication open between you.