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Undergraduate roommate as a graduate student?


Catria
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In order to keep rent costs down, I thought that it was a good idea to have roommates. But then there is the primary issue: some prospective roommates are undergraduates. Are there things to watch out for when you have an undergraduate for a roommate?

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I don't think the TAing thing is a big concern, both because it's unlikely (they have to be in the same major as you, and even then they're probably not taking an intro course if they're an upperclassmen, and upper level courses usually have smaller enrollments making it unlikely that you'll happen to TA the course they're in) and because it's not a big deal.  As TA, you're essentially in the role of their boss - learning to manage a personal friendship with someone when you also have a work obligation with them is an important life skill to pick up.  

 

I would say that if you think you're a compatible roommate with someone after talking to them, I wouldn't let the fact that they're an undergrad dissuade you.  After all, they are only 2-3 years different in age from you.

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I don't think the TAing thing is a big concern, both because it's unlikely (they have to be in the same major as you, and even then they're probably not taking an intro course if they're an upperclassmen, and upper level courses usually have smaller enrollments making it unlikely that you'll happen to TA the course they're in) and because it's not a big deal.  As TA, you're essentially in the role of their boss - learning to manage a personal friendship with someone when you also have a work obligation with them is an important life skill to pick up.  

 

I would say that if you think you're a compatible roommate with someone after talking to them, I wouldn't let the fact that they're an undergrad dissuade you.  After all, they are only 2-3 years different in age from you.

There might be ethics violations if you are a roommate with somebody you are TAing or grading for. I think it's unlikely to arise, as you said, but you need to be aware of whatever rules the university has if it does come up.

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Hm, interesting question. I plan to room with an undergraduate student. She seems super mature, has a job, and actually set the whole thing up for me and the other roommates. She has lived there for three years already, and is in a 5-year BA/MA program. So all in all, I didn't really think anything of it. I'm probably 1-2 years older than her at the most.

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I lived with a college senior during the first year of my MA and we got along fabulously. In fact, we're still friends and talk on FB once a month or so. What you're looking for is maturity and responsibility. Do they pay rent on time? Are they a crazy partier or more of the studious type? Do they work late at night, early in the morning, or during the day? Do they watch TV all the time or listen to music without headphones constantly? In other words, most of the same questions you'd want to ask any potential roommate.

 

At the schools I went to, living with someone that was in the class you TA'd for or taught wasn't a huge deal. The main requirement was that you not do any grading or write any tests where the roommate would have access that wouldn't be available to others in the course.

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I agree with rising_star on both the important roommate attributes and the TAing issue.

Of course, definitely check your own school's policies but I really doubt schools are going to be able to enforce a "no TAing for roommates" rule. As rising_star said, the important thing is to protect your student's privacy (but this applies to all of your students) and for you to not give your roommate an unfair advantage! 

 

In my program, we have almost no undergraduate students so all graduate students generally TA each other. I make sure to never grade in my office and always store assignments and solutions out of sight in a drawer. I also set my "office hours" rules so that when my officemates were my students, they didn't get an extra advantage (my rule was that students can drop in any time, so that every student can access me as much as my officemates could--however this only worked because I only had 6 students--when I had more students, I would have strict office hours held outside of the office).

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I lived with 2 undergrads during my masters.  I was 5-7 yrs older than both of them and it worked out fine.  Compatibility is waaaaay more important than age.  We would laugh because it would be 9:30 on a Wednesday and I'd be changing into pj's at the same time they'd be getting ready to go out.  It was kind of handy actually because they were more familiar with the campus and the city since they had already been there for a few years.  One thing I would look out for is the neighborhood.  Living with one or two undergrads is one thing while living in a neighborhood full of people experiencing freedom for the first time can be exhausting.  It might just be me being old and grumpy but I don't like hearing drunk guys yelling on a loud speaker outside my apartment at 4am. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

One thing I would look out for is the neighborhood.  Living with one or two undergrads is one thing while living in a neighborhood full of people experiencing freedom for the first time can be exhausting.  It might just be me being old and grumpy but I don't like hearing drunk guys yelling on a loud speaker outside my apartment at 4am. 

 

Agreed. When I toured or contacted properties I would always ask what kind of students/clientele the complex would tend to attract. Once, a leasing manager asked me about my own personal tendencies and then explicitly stated that they look for quiet, responsible students. If you are looking for serious, studious roommates, they'll probably want the exact same thing, so at least neighborhood/complex agreement will be likely.

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