How to avoid roommate conflicts at college

(WXYZ) - A lot of college students will be heading back to campus in the next few weeks.

For many, it will be their first time living with a new roommate.

Sharing a living space with someone new can be tough, but a few simple steps can help make the process easier.

Dr. Mike McKee, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, says communication is key from the very beginning.

Before moving to campus, roommates should get in touch, especially if they're going in blind.

Many students will contact roommates through Facebook, but experts encourage students to go one step further. They recommend talking to each other on the phone or meeting in person, if possible.

Students should find out what furniture or supplies each person is bringing. It's also important to get to know the person's habits and demeanor, so there aren't any surprises later.

"All of a sudden here's somebody else and they've left their toothbrush out or whatever bugs you," said Dr. McKee. "Then a little conflict starts, and it grows and grows, so you want to find out what you can about the person, so you know what to expect from them."

Once classes start, Dr. McKee recommends coming up with a schedule, so there are no conflicts when it comes to showers, cooking or cleaning.

Other experts encourage roommates to set up ground rules, especially when it comes to friends' visits. Roommates should discuss whether friends from the opposite sex will be allowed to stay the night, a topic that can lead to conflict if it's not addressed early on.

Dr. McKee also encourages students to look into different types of peer mediation or conflict resolution programs that may be offered on campus, so roommates know where to go for help if they can't reach a solution to their problems.

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