From Resident to Resident Director: 4 Lessons I Learned About Living on Campus
When I think back to my own college years, some of the most prominent memories that I have are from living on campus—my roommates, my friends, and the times we shared. Now, with nearly 10 years of professional experience in Residence Life, there are many things I wish I could say to my 18-year-old self about how to truly get the most out of my time living on campus.
Lesson 1: Everyone is nervous, and everyone wants to make new friends.
I remember the first couple nights; how worried I was about who my friend group would be or who I would eat breakfast with in the morning. Now, the advice that I give every student is, “Open your door, and say hello to people on your floor!”
Coming to campus is a new adventure, and everyone is in the same boat. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in the hallway, introduce yourself, ask them where they are from. Meet people face to face; don’t rely on social media to make connections for you. Chances are that person is just as nervous and will happily take the lifeline you’re handing them by breaking the ice.
Lesson 2: Attend the programs your Resident Assistants (RAs) are hosting.
This is a great way to meet new people and find others who share similar interests as you. RAs are always hosting programs requested by their residents. If there is a hobby or activity you love, let them know. They will gladly help organize something and, next thing you know, you’re finding others on the floor who are just as passionate as you are.
Lesson 3: Honest communication is so important.
It can be challenging and nerve-wracking to live with another person. Many new college students have never shared a bedroom, and it takes some adjusting by everyone when living with other people.
Talk to your roommate BEFORE you move in. Not over text, not over Instagram DMs, but actually on the phone (I’ll even take FaceTime), so you can hear that person’s voice and understand what they are saying. Talk about what you’re both bringing so you don’t overlap. Talk about your hobbies, your likes, your dislikes.
When you come to campus that first night, have another conversation about your expectations as roommates. How will you work through having guests, study habits, when it’s time for lights-out? These may seem small, but can quickly become a big problem. Have those conversations ahead of time, and I promise it will help in creating a more positive living environment.
Lesson 4: College is a time to get out there and try new things.
Get involved in a club you had never heard of before. Volunteer for that organization you really are passionate about. Apply for that job that sounds exciting to you. Don’t sit back and let the next four years go by without gaining valuable life experiences. Get involved!
My hope for every first-year student is that they come to college ready to be part of a community that welcomes them with open arms. If you can incorporate some of these tips, I’m sure you will be setting yourself up for a great year living on campus.