What do you think of when you hear the term RA (resident assistant)? Rules, quiet hours and sucking the fun out of college. Yes, RAs must enforce the rules, but they act as much more and can make your freshman year that much better. I work as an RA in McNutt, and while you don’t need to be best friends with your RA, many residents fail to fully take advantage of all their RA can offer. Your RA is the go to person for everyone on your floor—don’t waste what they could possibly offer to you.
So your RA studies business, but you dream of performing open heart surgery. They can’t possibly help you with homework, class selection or career advice, right? What if I told you I can introduce you to a pre-med senior applying to some of the best med schools in the country? Or someone working to become a dentist? How about someone who has taken all of the classes you need to take over the next two years and can talk about applying to graduate school? What about for journalism, psychology or history? Yup. Informatics, music or economics? You bet. Your RA knows people all across campus in almost every major through friends, co-workers or group projects from freshman gen-ed classes. RAs don’t always know the answer, but they almost always know someone who does.
RAs don’t sit around memorizing lists of campus events for you and your friends to attend, but it might as well be that way. RAs receive tons of fliers promoting events around campus and are in touch with many people promoting events via word of mouth. Not every event will interest you, but odds are your RA knows or can find out about the event you’re looking for.
Almost everyone takes calculus, microeconomics, introductory writing and other similar courses at IU, and your RA probably remembers a thing or two from those classes. RAs generally have their lives together and do fairly well in school. It never hurts to ask your RA who lives three doors down about your tricky calculus homework before packing up your bags to visit office hours across campus.
Guess what IU pays RAs to do? Help you. With anything. Your RA can help you work through problems with your roommate/friends, schools, family or almost any other life event. Think of your RA like a counselor. And if your RA doesn’t know how to help you with a particular situation, they are still available to just sit and listen if you need someone to talk to in confidence. RAs tend to be perceptive about what’s bothering their residents, but they don’t know everything. If you have a problem or situation that needs attention, don’t wait for your RA to suspect a problem. Reach out, RAs want to help.
As fun as sitting in your dorm room sleeping, studying and watching Netflix is, you’ll want to get up and do something with your time at IU. And even more than potential boredom, future employers don’t look too kindly on students who did nothing other than study in college. Join some clubs, take part in charitable activities, compete in academic related competitions or whatever suits your interest. But how do you find these clubs/events and make sure to become involved? Other than looking for fliers and sidewalk chalking around campus, RAs know plenty of organizations to join. Look around your floor for fliers related to clubs on campus or ask your RA what clubs they are apart of. RAs do much more than study and work as a RA and can show you some of the clubs they or their friends enjoy. And if the club is selective such as social or professional fraternities/sororities, IU’s O-Team (orientation guides) or club sports, odds are your RA has a connection that may assist you in becoming involved.