Planning eases adjustments to dorm life

Joining a FIG and negotiating space are a few things that could make the transition easier.
Sunday, July 27, 2008 | 10:14 p.m. CDT; updated 8:29 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 28, 2008
Johnston Hall is one of the residential halls on the MU campus. The halls frequently undergo renovations to keep them in good condition for the incoming students each year.

Coming to Mizzou will require you to adjust several different areas of your life. Sharing your personal space will likely be one of the adjustments.

This is the first year that MU is allowing incoming freshmen students to choose their roommates online. So now that finding a compatible roommate lies solely in your hands, it might be good to get some advice from the experts.

Kirsten Kennedy, associate director of Residential Life for housing operations at MU, said students are able to choose their own dorm rooms this year, as well as their roommates. To learn more, go to

According to the Web site, the top five reasons you may not end up with your requested roommate are because the requested roommate did not apply to MU; priority dates had passed by the time the latest of the two students' priority dates; there were no empty rooms available; applications and/or new student registration and orientation forms did not match exactly; the roommate request was not mutual; the requested roommate's full name was not used on his/her application.

What if I have a lot of problems with my roommate?

If a conflict arises between roommates, changes can be made, Kennedy said. "For issues that are irreconcilable, we do have a process for room changes. The students need to wait at least two weeks after we open the halls before any moves are granted. We need time to confirm which students aren't coming," she said, adding that the information helps staff know which spaces are available. "Students can begin signing up online for in-hall moves at two weeks, and between-hall moves at three weeks. Room moves do happen often, but not all are due to roommate conflicts."

What to bring?

There are some items that are often overlooked by freshman packing for their big move to Columbia, according to the site Some items that are important to remember are the sheets for your bed and pillows, since these are not supplied by the university.

Since you will most likely be using a common bathroom, bringing a shower caddy will be helpful, and shower shoes are also a necessity.

Senior Megan Florida remembers that she communicated with her roommate on who was bringing what before she came. "We got each other's phone numbers in the mail from the university, so I called her, and we split up who was bringing what, which made it easy on moving day," she said, referring to the bigger items such as a television, refrigerator or a microwave.

Join a FIG

As a freshman you will be introduced to Freshman Interest Groups. A FIG is a group of about 20 freshmen students living in a residence hall, taking three general education courses together and a one-credit proseminar course. An upper-class student, called a peer adviser, lives with the students in the hall, and a faculty member is assigned to each FIG. Together, the peer adviser and faculty co-facilitator teach the proseminar course. FIGs at MU have been shown to help students academically and socially, so from that respect, we believe they are important. Some FIGs have prerequisites for joining, such as a certain math score on the ACT, or being accepted into a certain program of study, but most are open to anyone, so long as there is space in residence halls and classes exists.

Set boundaries

Sharing your highly valued personal space may be one of the bigger issues you run into beginning this fall, especially if you aren't used to sharing a room. Junior Erin Hendrickson said boundaries are the name of the game. "Depending on how close you are with your roommate, you need to establish certain boundaries, like asking permission to borrow your things," she said. "You don't ever want to feel like someone is taking your things without asking."

Hendrickson also views respect as a key factor for a successful year with your roommate. "You can't come in at 2 a.m. and turn on the lights and music. A lot of it boils down to common sense and manners."

Hendrickson also advises giving each other breaks by leaving for an extended period of time to give your roommate some alone time. "It wears on you a little being with someone all the time, you will realize how precious it is to have a few moments to yourself," she said.

Understanding and patience are going to prove to be important virtues when it comes to adjusting to a new roommate.

For more information on your move to Columbia, go to


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