Hidden College Costs: Roommate Conflict

Parents, if you're already reeling from the costs of today's college education, take a deep breath. According to one expert, if your kids lack conflict resolution skills, it could end up costing you even more.

"Students who can't handle conflict run into trouble with roommates almost immediately," said Susan Fee who is the author of My Roommate is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, and Survive the College Roommate From Hell (Adams Media, 2005). "They avoid the issue rather than deal it, causing increased stress, lower grades, and additional moving and housing expenses," said Fee, who is a licensed professional counselor. She said students who focus only on academic success do so at the expense of other life skills.

"Some students have spent so much time studying and fitting in extracurricular activities that they never develop necessary social skills. Well-intentioned parents have become overly-involved in their kids' lives, planning their time, and solving their dilemmas. By the time these kids enter college, they have no confidence in speaking up for themselves," said Fee.

Another factor leading to trouble adjusting is a sense of entitlement. "It's not uncommon for students to come from homes where they had their own bedroom, bathroom, and TV," said Fee. "They have unreasonable expectations about having things their way."

The bottom line for parents: Children's poor communication skills can hurt your wallet. Kids who can't get along with their roommates request single dorm rooms, which are not only more costly, but usually unavailable. Others move off-campus, transfer to another school, or return home. Grades can be affected by the stress causing some students to repeat entire semesters. "The ultimate solution is for students to learn how to resolve their roommate differences rather than find ways to avoid them," said Fee.

She offers these five tips to parents:

1. Offer suggestions, not solutions. Telling your child what to do, or worse, handling the problem yourself, does more harm than good. Conflict resolution is a skill that needs to be practiced and the more you do for your kids, the longer it will take them to become confident. Instead, help them become critical thinkers by imagining scenarios, brainstorming solutions, and considering possible outcomes and consequences.

2. Prepare for conflict. Students who assume things will be "perfect" get thrown for a loop when they're not. Conflict is inevitable because people are different. Even best friends should expect to have differences in needs, living habits, stress levels, and communication skills. Teach your child that conflict does not have to be negative; it's an opportunity to be creative and learn how to problem solve.

3. Share expectations. Roommate contracts are popular today and many universities require them as a way to get kids talking about their expectations. Even if your child's school does not have formal contracts, encourage him to discuss things like sleep and study habits, bills, sharing items, cleaning, and the best times to have visitors. Just like pre-marital counseling, the more that's discussed upfront, the better the relationship.

4. Encourage face-to-face conversations. More and more, kids today would rather communicate through e-mail, IM, and text messaging rather than talking face-to-face. Without the benefit of facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language, messages can be misunderstood. Also, warn kids that gossiping to others instead of talking to their roommate directly only escalates the problem.

5. Ask for help. Residence life staff will help to mediate, as long as the student has already tried problem solving face-to-face. (In reality, most students wait to mention there's a problem until they want to move out, or at the first sign of trouble, they report it to their RA expecting that person to solve it.) Campus counseling centers are also available for help if a roommate is exhibiting signs of mental illness such as depression, substance abuse, or cutting. If nothing else, a counseling session can help your child learn to better deal with stress and find other ways to manage the situation.

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor and author of, "My Roommate Is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, and Survive the College Roommate from Hell" (Adams Media). She offers more college survival tips on her site, http://www.myroommateisdrivingmecrazy.com


Free Quran in All Languages

Free Tafsir Books

Need Money for College?

Finding money for college can be a challenge for many... Read More

Chiropractic Colleges

Before CHIROPRACTIC COLLEGES & SCHOOLS accept one into their educational... Read More

IMT College - Full Online

IMT College - full online* Ensure Your Future* Immediate Use... Read More

Is Pursuing A Degree Online Really For You? Who Should And Who Should Not?

Stanford University's Online Lessons Learned Stanford University's Center for... Read More

Creating the Acceptable College Applicant

America's colleges and universities no longer have enough room to... Read More

Parents: Take the SAT Challenge!

I keep a box of tissues on the table where... Read More

How Parents Can Help Allieviate The Stress of Getting Into College

Getting into college is a stressful experience for most high... Read More

Accredited Online Universities ? Getting Good Grades

Taking distance education courses requires more motivation and self discipline... Read More

Whats behind the Explosive Growth in Distance Learning?

There is a ground swell of support globally to support... Read More

Reducing the Administrative Burden for Further Education Colleges

The introduction of the Government's Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in... Read More

Online Education and Digital Divide

Digital Education is really coming along thanks to the US... Read More

Online Paralegal Degree Preparing You For Employment

In an era when professional opportunities are diminishing, one area... Read More

Acing the SAT Exam

Don't cheat. This goes without saying for 999 out of... Read More

Outstanding Business Professors at WVU, Part 2

Stratford Douglas enrolled at the University of North Carolina in... Read More

How To Improve Your Study Habits and Remember Better

If you're a student attending classes, you have probably experienced... Read More

Distance Learning, Online Education, Electronic Education, Electronic Learning?Call It What You Want

Whatever you want to label "learning at home" and however... Read More

Balancing College Life and Academics

1. Control Your Schedule; Don't Let Your Schedule Control YouOrganization... Read More

GCSE English I Hate the Moor Notes about Othello

The Shakespearean play "Othello" describes a cruel chain of events... Read More

The Key to Online College Classes - Have It Your Way

Never before has online education been more esteemed than today.... Read More

Marketing Students: 5 Guidelines For Your Final Paper

Get motivated! ('Why do I write this paper?")This is a... Read More

Tips On College Selection

It is highly recommended that early in the college selection... Read More

Financial Aid for Online Education

You've made the decision to pursue your degree online and... Read More

Dont Graduate - What Students Should Know About College, But No One Ever Tells Them

For all the students even dreaming about going to college,... Read More

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

There are over 50 Acupuncture Schools in the United States.... Read More

Looking For a Rewards Program That Offers Free Money for College Students?

With the rising cost of books, tuition and housing, it's... Read More