Originally created 07/04/06

Switch roommates if situation is awful



THIS WEEK'S PROBLEM: What if you go to college and get a roommate who drinks, smokes and has sex, and it is something you don't believe in. Do you stay for the rest of the semester, month or year? What if your roommate is a slob or loud and obnoxious?

XTREME REPORTER KAMILLE BOSTICK SAYS: Going off to college means that you'll be exposed to an entirely different world, where you'll meet people who have different backgrounds, beliefs, senses of themselves and goals. That's the beauty of college - it is an expansion beyond all that you've known.

That also can be its downside.

There is a chance that you will be put into situations foreign to you with people who do not have the same values as you. The important thing is to hold your ground. You don't have to change who you are or compromise what you believe.

Your worries about roommate woes are plausible, but let me give you some comfort: Usually in the questionnaire for housing, they screen you, asking whether you are a neat-freak or a nonsmoker so that they can pair you with someone who has similar interests and lifestyles. They sometimes even let you request a roommate who doesn't smoke or doesn't wake up early.

If you get a roommate who does things you don't approve of, such as drink, smoke or have sex, then there is no time limit that you have to stay with that person. Most dorms or on-campus housing programs allow for roommate switches and usually appoint older residents to be in charge at the residence halls in order to make sure roommates not only get along but also succeed while enrolled.

After you talk to the person in charge of housing, you can usually be removed within just a few days if you and your roommate have irreconcilable differences.

The question then becomes: Are the differences irreconcilable? Being roommates with someone who does things you consider wrong or dangerous would be grounds for immediately changing rooms, but it might be to your advantage to live with the student who wakes up extra early on Saturdays, studies extra hard all semester or has an affinity for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We can learn so much from people, even those who do things differently than us, that you shouldn't throw away an opportunity to get to know someone just because he or she doesn't "match" your personality.

Instead of moving out on the roommate who eats her Cheerios on your bed or talks extra-loud on her cell phone, maybe you should see whether you can work out a no-Cheerios-zone or a volume meter. Compromise has its rewards (such as not having to lug your TV, microwave and computer up three flights of stairs).

You know when you can't live with someone, and you should trust yourself. You're enrolled in college to get a degree, and if your "home" life is distracting or keeping you from that, you need to take steps to remedy it. If your roommate is rude or doing illegal things or just an overall bad influence, wish him or her well and move out. You're completely within your rights to do so.

College is a great place to meet all kinds of people. There just isn't a rule saying that you have to live with them. Good luck.

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NEXT WEEK'S PROBLEM: I have a friend whom I've known since we were 4. Around middle school, we were still friends, but she started hanging out with people that were in a more dangerous crowd.

I've been talking to her recently, and she is 14 and has a 21-year-old boyfriend. She sneaks out of her house at night to see this boy and goes to parties with him and his friends. This is not only dangerous but also illegal. Her parents have no idea, and she isn't coming home until around 5 o'clock in the morning sometimes, most of the time drunk. I'm scared that she's throwing her life away, but when my other friends and I try to talk to her, she just shrugs it off like it's no big deal.

We have been debating for a while about telling her parents what she's up to. We don't want to get her into trouble, but we want her to be safe. If she found out it was us who told, she would hate us forever. What should we do?

What would you say to this 15-year-old North Augusta girl? Go to augustachronicle.com/xtreme and look for this week's problem to submit your reply, or call the Advice Line voice mailbox at (706) 823-3358. You'll have one minute to reply.

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