Jul 17, 2019 | 3
Minute Read

How to Coexist with Four Students You’ll Meet in College

5 college students sitting

High school graduates attend college to learn skills that will better position them for success in the workforce. One of the most important lessons the college experience delivers is learning how to live and coexist with others.

Sharing a small dorm with very different personalities can be a life-changing experience. Being prepared for that experience can make all the difference.

Using the behavior model DISC, we can illustrate potential dorm room situations and struggles roommates may face. DISC is made up of four distinct behavioral factors: dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. While each individual will have some degree of all four behavior styles, most everyone has one predominant behavior style that supersedes the others, and guides how they approach their daily lives.

Our four characters below illustrate the unique traits specific to each of the four behavior styles.


Dave, the D

Dave is the dominant. He is very results-oriented and direct with his communication. He is quick to take on a problem or challenge and is more focused on the outcome than the process. He might lose interest if the task does not give him the results he wants.

Isabella, the I

Isabella is the influencer. She loves people and is energized in the presence of others. She’s all about making connections, and may occasionally skip a class if there’s a good party to attend. A social butterfly, Isabella can easily become distracted from the task at hand.

Sam, the S

Steady Sam likes stability. He doesn’t get too excitable and likes to maintain the status quo. Patient, loyal and reliable, he generally likes to be around people, as long as he is not put on the spot to make any impromptu decisions.

Cherie, the C

Cherie takes her time to get things right. She’s a bit of a perfectionist with her compliance behavioral preference. She’s a direct communicator who likes facts and details so she can be as accurate as possible.


Where they will connect

Dave and Cherie, both possessing direct communication styles, will get straight to the point in their communication. Cherie is detail-oriented and complements Dave’s fast pace and tendency to overlook minor details. Sam’s relaxed behavior will help him get along with all the roommates. His ability to outwardly accept other behavioral styles gives Sam an advantage when it comes to relating to others. Isabella will be welcoming and strive to connect with her roommates as quickly as possible.

Where they will clash

Keeping the apartment organized may be a source of conflict for Isabella and Cherie. Cherie likes things just so, while order and organization are not Isabella’s top priority. Isabella’s need for regular interaction may become problematic to Cherie. Isabella and Dave may vie for the attention of the group.

Dave and Isabella’s pace may wear thin on Sam who likes to take things slow. Sam may stress out whenever he is asked to make an on-the-spot decision on where to eat or what to do without being given ample time to consider his options. Cherie will eventually take exception to Dave’s lack of follow through. Sam and Isabella may be put off with Dave and Cherie’s direct style of communication, preferring a less direct approach.

Putting unique and different behavioral styles under one roof can be a recipe for both successes and challenges. Roommates with different styles can grow from each other’s experiences as long as they learn how to overcome their differences. It all starts with an understanding of the behavioral style each person possesses and adapting to it. By recognizing the differences and adapting accordingly, roommates can find common ground and coexist happily and productively.


This article was originally published in the July 2019 edition of College Times

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Dave Clark