I just found out I'll be living in a suite with four other girls next year at college. I'm really freaked out about college, and I'm scared I'll hate it. I'm especially nervous about my living arrangement and how to make it work. How do we decide who gets which bed? Should we set up some rules before we get there or after we've arrived? I don't want my living situation to be so unhappy that it interferes with my school work. Can you help me?
It sounds like you're dreading the social aspects of college life rather than seeing them as a great adventure. I hope we can reduce your worry and help you relax.
Let's begin with the basics: Prayer. Starting right now, give all your concerns to God and trust him to make everything come together. His Word tells you to "not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). God can help you keep your concerns in perspectiveall you need to do is ask.
As for your questions about your future roommates, I want to reassure you that you'll probably be able to work things out just fine. Most people really want to get along with others, especially people they live with. Be flexible and expect that your roommates will be too. Take your concern about the beds, for example. Whoever gets to the room first will have to select a bed, or at least a side of the room, so she can begin to settle in. So if you get there later and aren't happy with the choice left to you, don't assume it's the end of the world. You can always talk about it and work out an agreement.
If you and your roommates arrive close to the same time, you can make some decisions together about how to divide up the space, including the beds. After you've been together a while and have a pretty good understanding of each other's needs, you might want to move the furniture around. You might even have to give in on one thing to get something else that's more important to you. For instance, maybe you agree to take the bed by the door in exchange for using the bigger closet. Choose your battles carefully. Don't make everything an issue. Be a peacemaker and help bring people together to talk things out.
Instead of worrying, think about how much fun it will be to live with four new friends. Often your first contacts in the residence hall result in lifelong friendships. You're on the threshold of some wonderful changes and new experiences. With God's help, I think you'll be happier in college than you ever imagined!
Judy Moseman served as Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students at Bethel University (MN).