I'm moving back into the dorms at my university for the third year.
The freshman dorms are a bit different from our upperclassmen dorms (the upperclassmen get their own bedrooms with a door, the standard dorm has four people living in it with a kitchen and living area as well). When moving in with a new roommate or new roommates, it is important to establish everyone's expectations and preferences at the beginning, so that there is no question about it later.
After living in two different styles of dorms, and going back for my third year, here are some things that definitely need to be brought up with your new roommate or roommates.
1. Are overnight guests allowed in our room?
Last year fall semester, I got pretty lucky with my roommates. However, when we got a new fourth roommate spring semester, her guests were pretty loud at some late hours (whether or not they slept over, I was still trying to sleep!) and I would have preferred her to ask the rest of us if we were okay with it. Other than that, we all agreed that significant others' were allowed overnight, as long as it wasn't every night.
2. Cleaning up the kitchen area.
We all have messy days and dirty dishes that are thrown into the sink if we are late for class. However, discussing with your roommate(s) how long they sit in the sink before it is time to call for a "roommate" meeting is something that should be discussed (if you have a kitchen area) at the beginning of the year. It is also gross if bugs are crawling all over your eating and food space.
I have been pretty lucky that two of my current roommates are my best friends, so we don't have a problem sharing food, cooking with/for each other, and sharing other stuff. But if your new roommates are complete strangers, you should set the ground rules with what in your common area you are okay with sharing with, and what you ARE NOT. If there is something you don't want anyone else getting into and you have a bedroom with a door, put it in your room so that your roommates' guests don't use it either (yes this has happened to me, and it's rude).
4. Sleeping and Quiet Time Schedules.
If your roommate tells you that they are pretty social and like to have friends over, or know that they will be getting back late at night a lot, talk to them about when you go to bed, when they shouldn't be loud if they have guests over, or when you need quiet time to get your homework done. If they are disrespectful of this, have your RA help you sort it out.
Again, this one is nice that I will be living on the same side with my best friend for another year, because we know each other's schedules. I know that she takes the longest showers on earth, so I shower before her. She knows that I take a lot of time to do my makeup in the morning (which won't be a problem because she won't be awake as early as I have to be this year), but last year, I made sure to let her use the bathroom in the mornings first. Discuss what you're sharing or if you're sharing- things such as soap, towels, toilet paper (it sounds silly, but I know people that do not even like to share that).
6. Studying Time.
The two roommates that aren't new to me know where and when I like to study. We also like to study together, but something we are going to have to talk to our new roommate about is our time when we are studying. This also counts as "quiet time," or time when we prefer not to have guests in our dorm.
It is important to know what your new roommate(s) are allergic to- if anything, to help prevent any unnecessary allergic reactions- whether that is to food, perfume, indoor plants, or anything else.
8. Who in the dorm has a car?
Last year, all four of us (both semesters) had cars, so we didn't really need to rely on each other to get places. But freshmen year, I took a lot of rides from my roommate and other friends because I didn't have a car. I am lucky and live downtown where I can walk to the grocery store, but if you or your new roommate don't have a car, you might want to talk about car pooling for necessities.
9. Do you drink or smoke?
If you are living with someone new, I would just ask the question right away- especially if you want to be prepared in case anything happens, or the UPD randomly knock on your door at 10 PM one night. You don't want to be surprised when it happens, trust me. Most students will be honest with you about it.
10. Room Temperature.
My two friends fought a lot over the temperature last night, because one was always cold and one was always hot. I personally like to go to sleep and turn the air all the way down, because we live in Florida and I don't like to wake up sleeping. However, even if this seems silly, it is something that you and your roommate(s) should discuss and try to come to a compromise on.