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You were, at some point, a freshman moving into the residence halls and the resident assistants (RAs) were there to welcome you with open arms. You may have went into the traditional residence halls or dorms, possibly a cosy suite-style hall, or even an apartment, but no matter where you were, there was an RA or equivalent (my university uses community assistants or CAs). We are here to make your living, academic, and social life thrive as you go through your time at your respective university. We are those mentors, tutors, and guides that aid you through the years, and hope that you make the best of them. You may have left your RA behind if you moved off of campus, or you just got a new one a couple weeks back, but here is some advice from one RA at a state school in little town, Pennsylvania to you on how to make this semester the best that you can.
Get involved with your living community.
If you are living in a traditional residence hall, you have the great opportunity to have programs weekly and a group of neighbors right next door. Go and talk to them. Over my years as an RA, students have told me that some of their closest friends have been made in the residence halls, and that was their favorite part of freshman year. Be that person that goes door to door and introduces yourself. Go to the programs that the RAs put together and meet someone new. Utilize your social areas such as the lobby and lounges and play some games, watch a movie, or just socialize. There are so many opportunities for you.
Get involved in clubs and organizations.
College is not just books and grades; there is a wide world of different clubs and organizations that BU offers. Do you like swimming? Do you like golf? How about Pokemon? There is a club for just about everything, and it is only a couple clicks away. Every school has their own exhaustive list of clubs that are available to you, and they are always looking for more members. Are you interested in Greek Life? Being in a brotherhood or sisterhood is often referred to as an amazing experience that gives you lifelong friendships. If you are interested, look into what frats/sororities follow your beliefs and expectations.
In the worst of situations, your university may not have the club that perfectly fits your needs. In that case, there is most likely a protocol for creating your own club. If you see a deficit, there are most likely other students that would thrive from your club, so go ahead and start it.
Get involved off campus.
If your university is anything like my small town one, you are most likely somewhat integrated into the culture that follows the actual town off of campus. For example, there is a downtown theatre that offers live performances for free using your university ID or discounts on tickets. We also have a United Way which funds some of the non-profits that are in town, and they are always looking for help (plus, some volunteer work always looks good on a resume).
Ask for help when needed.
We as RAs can’t tell you what to do in terms of when to study, what time to go to bed, and what major you should be in. We are meant to be guides to help you through your hardships. If you need a hand, don’t be afraid to reach out. Along with that, don’t wait around for a RA to notice, either. Reach out to a friend, a professor, or some of the resources available on your campus so they can provide you with all the help they can give. There tends to be more than one resource available to students on campuses, so make sure to utilize them!
Have fun—but be smart.
Our goals as an RA is not to take away any part of your college experience; we want you to have the best experience that is available to you, and only you can provide that for yourself. That being said, we want to provide you with ways to be safe and smart when you participate in your extra activities off-campus. Many of our programs focus on consent, safe sex practices, and the risks that come from heavy drinking. We want you to be the best student you can be, and being safe and being smart is a part of that.
Keep a positive attitude.
As the semester comes to a close, assignments keep piling up. More and more events are happening in your individual clubs and organizations. The list goes on and on, but you continue to only be one person. Times get tough, but the only way to keep moving is with a positive attitude. RAs try hard to keep spirits high and provide that bit of positive energy to keep you going, but the only way to really get the gears turning is giving yourself that positive energy. Go to the gym and relieve some of that stress through yoga. Get a cheap massage at a local spa. Take an hour and play some video games with your friends. Discover what keeps your positive energy going and stick to it. That energy is what is going to keep your grades up and your spirits high as you make fall semester the best one yet.