Oftentimes, people see their resident advisor as the stranger who lives down the hall and occasionally stops a party in their building. Contrary to popular belief, RAs can be valuable resources, as long as you know what they're there for.
1. Being someone to talk to.
They might not know the answers to all of your problems, but RAs are there to listen to you if you have something you want to talk about. Struggling with a class? Hate your major? Overwhelmed? Most of the time, they've been through similar issues and can help talk you through it, but if they haven't, they're still there for a good venting session when nobody else will listen.
2. Resolving roommate conflicts.
While RAs aren't responsible for moving you to another room, they can help mediate conflicts with your roommate to make the rest of the semester a little more bearable. You should always address issues with your roommate before coming to an RA, unless it's something more serious.
3. Planning floor programs.
If you're feeling bored on campus, homesick or are having trouble making friends, go to your RA to suggest a floor program they can plan. These programs can gather several people from the floor for a fun (and often, free) event and help you bond with new people.
4. Helping with academics.
Any important decisions should be made by talking to an academic advisor, but if you want information about a different major, chances are your RA will know someone in that field who's willing to talk to you. They can also suggest good study habits and help you find people on your floor in similar courses so you can study together. If that doesn't work, your RA can give you tips on time management, organizational skills and other useful information to help you succeed in college. It might not always be the best advice, but it's a good first step before talking to an advisor or professor.
5. Connecting you to campus resources.
One of the best parts about your RA is that they've been on campus for at least a year — they know where to find things, who to talk to and what services are available for you on campus. Anything from mental health services to the best dining hall on campus to the cheapest place to buy your books, they can help you find it or connect you to someone who can.
6. Helping with maintenance issues.
If the screen for your window is broken, your lock isn't working, you smell something funny in the hall or something else happens, let your RA know. They likely won't fix it themselves, but they'll either let you know the number to call to report it or report it themselves to help you get it fixed.
While RAs might have a bad reputation, they're ready and trained to help you in more ways than you know. Feel free to introduce yourself to your RA on move-in day, and don't be afraid to approach them if an issue arises in the future — they're there to help.
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