College Dorm Survival Guide Pt. 1: The RA

The transition into dorm life can be a difficult one for many college freshmen. Some simply are not accustomed to taking care of themselves and others go a little crazy without parental supervision. Most freshmen do just fine, but after the allure of being away from your parents wears off and the excitement of dorm life fades, you start to realize that you have an entire year to live in a small dorm room, in a hall full of strangers. Fortunately they won’t be strangers for long, but that’s part of the lessons I hope to show you today. From how to live with a total stranger, to avoiding trouble with the RA and the police, I hope to help you navigate your dorm life successfully with a few tips and tricks from those of us who have been there and made those mistakes you’re hoping to avoid.

Dealing With The RA:

The Resident Assistant, or Resident Attendant (depending on your school) is essentially a babysitter for freshmen. That may sound degrading to freshmen, but it’s true if you look at the dynamics between the two. RAs aren’t changing diapers, but they are a strange pseudo authority figure/friend and there tends to be a ‘you can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my mom’ mentality for some freshmen. On the other side, RAs are trying to be friends with their residents while at the same time telling them to ‘turn the music down, it’s 4 am on a Tuesday,’ or ‘yes you have to go to class if you expect to pass.’

Many residents, especially those with authority issues, look at RAs as the enemy because they represent ‘the man.’ However this ‘us vs. them’ mentality can be the cause of a lot of tension in your dorm.

The best way to handle your RA, whether you’re a rule breaker or just want to have a pleasant year, is to become friends with him or her. Now, this won’t always be possible, and there are definitely some RAs out there who abuse their power, but putting forth your best effort to be friendly and kind with your RA will help you down the road. I’m not saying you’ll be drinking beers with your RA any time soon, but if you ever run into trouble and there’s the possibility of getting out of it, that friendship you’ve built up will be the lubricant to help you wiggle your way out of the situation. Who knows, you may get lucky and they might just look the other way for you ( it’s happened before).

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