Having a roommate, particularly as a first year student, is an important part of the undergraduate college experience at TCNJ. Sharing a space with others can be challenging and rewarding, and will offer you many opportunities to reflect on your own values, assumptions, and ways of seeing the world.
We understand that this experience is often new for many of our students, so here are some quick tips to help you frame your roommate experience —
roommate as a professional partnership
Think of your roommate as a classmate with whom you’ve been assigned to do a group project. You will have many group projects in college, because learning to live and work with others is one of the ways TCNJ prepares its students to be active and successful citizens.
Just as you wouldn’t need to be good friends with a group member in order to complete a successful project, you don’t need to be good friends with your roommate in order to maintain a professional relationship. In fact, many good friends who choose to live together often report that it is a challenge to find appropriate professional boundaries while also maintaining a friendship.
open and engaging communication
Practicing open communication, engaging each other in conversation, and listening are some of the most important steps you can take in maintaining this partnership. We recommend having regular in person conversations in neutral spaces like the library café or on the walk to class, and not relying on technology to mediate your partnership or serve as a mechanism to voice your concerns.
While It can be okay to engage with your roommate over social media, keep in mind that in person conversations are the best way to ensure a successful partnership – just as meeting in person to discuss the material is the best approach for a group project.
Remember to be mindful of your social media presence as well, and consider what information you are willing to make public.
shared living space agreement
For some, having a roommate might be the first time you’ve had to share your room with another person. Opening and honest communication is a good practice to maintain a successful partnership. To aid in this conversation, all students who share semi-private spaces (Townhouses, Apartments, Suites, Rooms, Houses, etc.) complete a Shared Living Space Agreement within the first week of classes. This document guides roommates to have conversations about studying, socializing, music or noise levels, cleanliness and organization, and other broad categories germane to residential living. This should, by no means, be the only time roommates discuss expectations or establish guidelines for the room. The Shared Living Space agreement is a living document and we encourage roommates modify and confirm its principles regularly.
A copy of the shared living space agreement is left with the roommates and a copy is kept on file.
room change process overview
Room changes start on the 3rd Wednesday of the semester. We do not offer room changes during the first two weeks of the semester as we confirm the availability of open spaces. In addition, we want students to have the opportunity to have in person conversations before making the decision to change rooms.
Requesting a Room Change
Students who would like to change rooms should first approach their Community Adviser or Residence Director to discuss the situation. If roommates are facing challenges, Residential Education staff will meet with both students to have a conversation and discuss the partnership. If a compromise cannot be reached and other rooms are available, the Residence Director will authorize a room change.
Students looking to switch rooms with each other, or do a bed for bed swap, can stop by Residential Education and Housing in Eickhoff 114 to pick up room change paperwork. All students moving must complete the paperwork.
Incoming First Year Students
For incoming first year students, room assignments are typically done in late July, but no room changes are processed until the 3rd Wednesday of the semester. Incoming freshman, particularly those who have never shared a space with someone else, are often anxious about embarking on this new challenge. It’s important that roommates have in person conversations about setting mutual expectations and defining boundaries before changes will be considered. Part of TCNJ’s Welcome Week program is time set aside for roommates to discuss the social contract and complete a shared living space agreement.
Since first year students live within a specialized living and learning communities, or FSPs, all room changes must be kept within the living learning community boundaries. For example, students living on the first floor of Travers Hall may only be able to switch within vacancies that exist on that floor.
Fall to Spring Moves
Students switching rooms in between the fall and spring semester should request a spring room change as soon as the desired space is available. In some cases, we may not be able to confirm a spaces availability until the end of the fall semester or until another department processes the information (i.e. Records and Registration, Global Affairs, student teaching, etc.). Students who are moving into a new space for the spring are required to move entirely out of their fall space at the end of the fall semester and into the spring space in January.