In college, the housing issue is complicated. Who should you room with? What if you get stuck with a bad roommate? What dorm should you try to get into? Will all your stuff fit into this third-choice room you ended up with? Sometimes one of the most complicated questions: how are you going to pay for this? Dorm life can be expensive, sometimes just as much or more than living in an apartment off-campus. Can they really charge that much when you’re already paying so much for tuition? They can and they do. So you’re considering becoming an RA to save some money. Here’s what you need to know.
A lot about being an RA is give and take: depending on your personality, your experience can be doused with positives and negatives. For starters, you get your own room, which can be nice or lonely. If you’re someone who has had trouble in the past with roommates or just really enjoys your privacy, this is perfect for you. But just because you have your own room doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect to have a lot of alone time. As someone on duty, your door has to be open for your residents basically all the time. Sometimes people will come in just to hang out because they’re lonely. Now and then you’ll have to advise someone facing an issue, like a freshman who’s homesick. So, if you’re a complete loner this may not be the job for you. You have to be helpful and caring toward your residents—even when they annoy you at 3 am.
Another aspect to consider is cutting your summer short. Generally, it is required for RA’s to move in early, possibly go through some training and helps all the newbies move in. If you have an internship that’s lined up to last right up until an average student is returning or a family vacation schedule for right before school, this can certainly put a damper on your plans. So, if you’re considering RA-dom, be prepared for compromise on time—even before the school year officially starts. This will also change your travel plans during the school year. You can’t leave every weekend or even every other weekend; depending on your school, you may get only one weekend every month to travel home…so plan wisely!
Now it’s time to think about your resume. There are positives and negatives being an RA can provide. Obviously, an RA is a leader and it will definitely present you as a take-charge kind of person who can handle difficult situations on their own. Your communication skills will improve considerably—as will your understanding of strange campus lingo. You’ll also be shown as a problem solver, someone who can truly care for another and act to find the best solution. Being an RA can also hurt your resume a bit if it cuts into time you could otherwise spend on other organizations or studying. With a lot on your plate for your RA responsibilities, something else will likely have to give. This won’t necessarily hurt you, to stop attending recreational volleyball, but it is something to consider.
Finally, think of the responsibilities you’ll have and consider if it’s something you’ll actually enjoy. RA’s often correspond activities for their hall, set up meetings, enforce the rules, and have a knowledge of the university to help guide students (especially freshmen) to the people they need to talk to. Also, consider your personality. If you generally don’t like hanging out with people regularly or listening to their problems, this probably isn’t the right choice for you. If you’re really shy and don’t think you’ll be able to come out of your shell enough to help your residents, consider other cheaper housing options.
Ultimately, the job isn’t just about you. It’s about what your residents need you to be and need your help with. Just like an internship or any other job, you have to think about whether or not you’re the best one for the position, beyond the money factor. With the job comes a lot of benefits and a lot of responsibilities, so if you decide being an RA is something you can do, be prepared to take the good with the bad.
As always, best of luck!
I’m reading Introduction to Geography
Depending on where you go to school, living can be a sticky situation. If you go to a big school your options might consist of freshmen dorms, off campus apartments or houses, and potentially Greek Sorority or Fraternity houses. You may get to choose where you live—and make the tough call of staying put, or venturing off on your own. However if you go to a smaller school, your options start to change.
Smaller schools can accommodate more students because of smaller numbers—instead of 33,000 beds, you may only need a few thousand—if that. Small scale universities have large commuter, day time, and evening populations. Dormitories can be built to hold fewer students than state schools would need to, and often guarantee housing for all four years instead of offering a less than desirable lottery system.
But how do you choose where to live? If it’s mandatory to live on campus, is that a bad thing? If you can choose whether or not to live on campus, should you? Or if you have the option to move off campus, what factors should you consider? Where does benefit vs. cost analysis kick in?
Before you toss and turn trying to figure out all of you housing worries, consider the facts. Make a pros and cons list and really weigh your options. Most campuses are different, so what may make more sense for friends studying at other schools, may not necessarily make the most sense for you!
So why live on campus? Here are my reasons: I go to a small, private institution in Philadelphia. It’s centered in an urban area, 15 minutes from center city. Housing options are limited off campus—you have to rent, buy or sublet. However, students are fortunate enough to be guaranteed housing on campus for all four years. And that’s not all! Your start in the dorms, but as you move through semesters and classes (and start to accumulate credits!) you can move up on the housing ladder. Dorms turn into apartments, and eventually your apartment turns into a townhouse with three floors. Now this isn’t the case everywhere, but you get the point. There are options for students who want to stay close, and stay put right on campus! The upkeep is taking care of, you don’t pay water and electric, you have options and space to room. Really, campus is your new backyard. The only downside? Your room and board receipt. Maybe it’s covered in your financial aid, scholarships or loan, or maybe not. Just consider the numbers and decide if adding this portion to your bill makes sense.
If on campus isn’t for you, what else can you try? Here is my perspective– On the flip side of our cozy campus community, is the off-campus living. Students who are local, or who want slightly more freedom than dorms allow, make the move off campus. There are houses and apartments close by with owners looking to rent, or sublet to desirable students. There are factors that go into this move that students don’t often consider—safety, upkeep, costs, etc. However, when all is said and done, those who decided to become “college home owners” do okay. You can make your own rules, decorate however you want, and eat on your own plan. However, don’t forget to consider the time commitment you are signing up for! You are signing a lease or contract and become responsible for property. You are paying bills (that may or may not be cheaper than on campus alternatives), and managing the upkeep of your place. You have to cook, clean, and monitor aspects of your living life that you may not have even noticed when you were in the dorms.
Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to where you should live on campus. It’s mixing bowl of factors, time, and costs. You need to decide what makes the most sense for you individually and how you want to spend your time when you don’t have your head buried in a book. Do you want to share a room, are you comfortable with roommates? Can you remember to take on the trash? Will you remember to turn off lights and lock your door? Will you remember to grab your keys?
Take your time and do your research. Check out every available outlet of information on housing in your college area and decide what makes the most sense—also check requirements. Some scholarships stipulate that you live on campus, so does some financial aid! Or your campus may have a “first year” rule making it mandatory to live on campus. After that, it’s up to you! You can also choose how you decorate your room and what furniture to have—now you just have to decide where that room will be!
Dorm life isn’t usually easy, especially when you have to live with someone else in such a small space. If you are not used to sharing a room with someone else then living in a dorm might be hard for you. Living with a stranger makes the experience even more challenging. Dealing with a roommate is not always easy. There are a couple things to remember when living with someone else.
You’re not used to each other yet
If you are living with a random roommate you already know the first couple weeks might be a little bit uncomfortable. If you know your roommate’s name before you move in, try Facebooking them and letting them know you are their roommate. Try to get to know them a little bit before you move in. Don’t bite your roommates head of the first night! Be patient and open to the person your roommate might be.
Know each other’s expectations
Toes will be stepped on (figuratively speaking) if ground rules are not established upon move in. It is only fair for your new roommate to know what you expect of them and what they expect of you. Establish some rules you have for each other and how you would like the atmosphere of your new room to be. Let your expectations be known.
Find out your roommate’s personality
Communication with your roommate might be one of the most important things to have when living with someone else! Is your new roommate a party animal? Are you not a partier? That kind of information needs to be exchanged. Do you confront your problems directly? Do you hold in your feelings until you can’t anymore? Communicate! It’s so important to have peace and happiness in your new room!
Take responsibility for your belongings
Your belongings might be tossed around the room and mixed in with your new roommates. Just keep in mind that even though you live in the same room, you are the one responsible for your things. Your roommate is not going to babysit your stuff, so make sure it is where it needs to be. If you have important or sacred belongings try getting a safe to keep your things in. You cannot expect your roommate to keep track of your belongings, and they cannot expect you to keep track of theirs.
I’m reading Cost Accounting
Roommates are annoying, especially freshman year when they are randomly assigned to you. Forced compatibility is rough no matter how social you are. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
#1 Confess to your roommate that you’re confused, sexually and carnivorously. Lament daily that you should be a vegetarian but just can’t quit eating bacon.
#2 Start every story you tell him/her about high school with “We got so hammered and then ….” End every story with “hilarity ensued.”
#3 Blare loud music so that all your hallmates will have to stop by at least once to tell you to turn it down. Any publicity is good publicity.
#4 If your roommate tells you about someone they like, be VERY supportive of their opinions. Tell them how smoking hot that person is, how you’d be all over them if they weren’t already into them, and then for good measure, flirt with that person at parties to prove you were not lying when you said they were attractive.
#5 Stock up on pungent foods like garlic and old cheese. That way if you need them to vacate, you open up your stinky stash just long enough for them to hightail it to the library. Blame it on the dining hall food you ate last night.
#6 Wait until the pile of dirty clothes is taking up 1/5 of your total floor space to do laundry, then brag about how “green” you are being by hanging your clothes around the room. If she get pissy about your wet floor, lay some eco-guilt on her.
#7 Related to the last one, you can further impress them with your environmentally consciousness by only flushing after number 2. If they complain, show them some stats about lack of clean water in developing countries. They will roll their eyes at first, but just keep talking and they will totally get it.
Have any roommate horror stories from someone who did anything on this horrifying list? Let us know in the comments section.
I’m reading Elementary Statistics