Posts Tagged ‘resident advisor’

What is a Resident Assistant?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

When it comes to college housing, and all the joys and concerns that go with it, the Resident Assistant is someone you want to get to know! For learning how to get around on campus or info on academic policy at your school, your RA is always in the know.

What is a resident assistant?

What is a resident assistant?

What is a Resident Assistant?

In your dorm room or residence hall, you will have a Resident Assistant, or RA, who lives in the dorm or residence hall just like you. Unlike you, He or she will live there for the majority of the year (including weekends). Your RA is there to enforce the rules, mediate disagreements, and provide general support for students!

Your RA will also try to create a sense of community and ensure that everyone obeys the college or university’s rules (including what to take to college, so don’t try to sneak in Fluffy or Fido unless your school is a pet-friendly college). Here are three great reasons why the resident assistant is an important part of the dorm housing experience.

You Know You Could Use Somebody

Neutral Party – It happened. You neglected to heed any of My College Guide’s tips for how to get along with your college roommate and now: Things aren’t going so well. When you need a neutral party to help you sort things out, the Residential Advisor is just the person to talk to!

New Kid on the Block – Your resident adviser is someone who knows the ropes. If you need help with anything, like getting from Point A to Point B, figuring out a homework assignment, or you just need to know about on-campus resources, the resident assistant is just the person you need! Your RA can help you learn the lay of campus or help you deal with a troublesome professor. The resident assistant has the answers to your college questions!

Relationships 101 – Sometimes, your resident assistant is like the big brother or sister you have always wanted (or left behind 4 states away). When you have relationship squabbles or a big break-up, your resident assistant is someone that you can talk to about anything—and receive helpful, friendly support.

Code of Conduct

The job of a resident assistant varies from college to college but for the most part, the above remains true. Your residential adviser is your easy connection to college life. She or he can help you make the transition to college–and will also help see you off when you leave for the summer!

Image Courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Huston / Thomas Huston.

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Creating Community: Living and Learning at the University of Texas Dallas

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

On-campus housing is no longer synonymous with no terms like “cramped” or “crowded,” the new residence halls and, more specifically, learning and living communities, offer college freshmen a totally unique college experience (and a chance to fill a resume)! My College Guide talked  to Cynthia Jenkins, the assistant vice president for human affairs, at the University of Texas Dallas, about their fantastic college housing.

Viva Volunteerism at Jubilee Park in Dallas - Energy Audit

Courtesy of the University of Texas Dallas

So, at the University of Texas Dallas, all students live in the residence halls, but a select group of Freshmen have the option of also participating in a living and learning community?
This has been the model to this point. Beginning Fall 2011, all Freshmen who live on campus will be part of a living learning community. The freshman housing application has students select their top 3 choices for the communities they would like to join.

What is the living and learning community like at the University of Texas Dallas?
Living learning communities (LLC) at UT Dallas enable students with similar academic majors or personal interests to share the same living space (they occupy suites that are adjacent on the same floor of the residence hall),  and they provide them with numerous opportunities to connect based on the community theme, such as:

They enroll in the same First Year Experience course in the Fall semester, taught by an LLC faculty or staff partner (for example, students with a major in the School of Management share the class and are taught by an Assistant Dean in the school.)  Some communities have special courses created for them for the Spring semester.

Residential Life programming developed by the students’ Peer Advisors (our equivalent of Resident Assistants) often focuses on the theme of the community: upperclassman- led study sessions, pizza party for planning out course schedules before registration & discussing course content/format/professors in their areas of study, faculty members invited to speak on their research, etc.

Living Learning Community staff develop programs that further the learning experiences outside the classroom: movie nights showing documentaries reflecting the community theme followed by a panel discussion, faculty dinners where faculty dine with student in the campus Dining Hall, field trips to local industries (the Art & Technology community visited the Janimation Studios in Dallas), guest speakers (such as a panel of medical students from UT Southwestern who spoke to members of the Pre-Health LLC.)


Courtesy of the University of Texas Dallas

What communities are available to Freshmen?
For Fall 2011 we will offer the following communities:

Academic: Engineering and Computer Science, Art & Technology, School of Management, Pre-Health
Special Interest Theme – Music, Global Awareness, Wellness, Sustainability, Pathways to the Future

So, the residence halls are a little different from the 8 x 8 boxes for a room, aren’t they?
Our residence hall consists of 3-room suites. There is a common living area, common sink area with 3 sinks and storage space for each student, single shower and toilet, and 3 individual lockable rooms.

What activities are living and learning students involved in outside of the classroom?
Some are listed above. Others include: special projects for Engineering students (creating a ‘machine’ of some sort, displaying in the lobby of the residence hall and judged), Art & Technology students produced a video on living in the ATEC LLC and worked with faculty and grad students to learn techniques, Management students had a residence hall room cooking contest which was  judged by the Dean of the School of Management, Music students went back stage with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Students in the communities also engage in service projects and in Spring 2010 there was an Alternative Spring Break trip to Heifer International Headquarters for just LLC students. There are lots of study sessions and socializing with community members and their Peer Advisors as well.

Why should a student consider a living and learning community?
Living learning communities enable students to connect with peers who share their interests and meet faculty who can help them develop their college path. The special opportunities afforded students in living learning communities can enhance their experience of the university and put them on the fast track to getting involved in meaningful ways. Events and programming are designed specifically to engage students relative to their community interest, offering both academic, career-focused, and social events that are more meaningful.

Viva Volunteerism at Jubilee Park in Dallas - Energy Audit

Courtesy of the University of Texas Dallas

What makes a living and learning community a good choice for some students?
Students can gain from being in an LLC in different ways, which makes the experience beneficial to all students. Those who come to the university not knowing anyone will have an instant connection with students who share their academic goals or other personal interests. Students who hope to be campus leaders and build strong college resumes for graduate /med/law school have opportunities to get to know faculty outside of the classroom setting and discover very quickly how they can make an impact. Students who want to learn how to connect their passions (for environmental issues, global causes, physical/spiritual/mental wellness) to a major and career have university faculty and staff who can help them do so.  Living learning communities enable students to engage with their academic and personal interests beyond what their individual classes offer.

If a high school student likes the thought of the living and learning communities at UT Dallas, what can they do to boost their chances for getting chosen?
Beginning in Fall 2011, all students who wish to live on campus will now have the opportunity to experience being part of a Living Learning Community.

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Getting Started at College: Tips for Settling in at the Beginning

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Andrew Stawarz/Andrew Stawarz

If you’ve already received an acceptance letter from your early-decision school, congratulations! Your time worrying about getting into school is finally done—but what do you need to know when you actually arrive at college? Here are a few tips that will help make the transition from home to the frosh dorms simple and painless.

Connect with other future students in advance. These days, it’s easy to connect with your future classmates before you even set foot on campus. Just search Facebook for groups, fan pages, and people connected to your future school—more than likely, you’ll find a group dedicated to admitted students in your class. If not, start your own, and others will soon discover you. If anyone in the group lives nearby, see about getting together for lunch. It will be great to have a familiar face on the first day of school.

Buy or rent your textbooks before you arrive. During the first few days of school, you can spend hours in line waiting to purchase your textbooks, which are often sold at heavily inflated prices. Skip the lines and the high prices by getting a list of coursebooks in advance from your school, and purchasing copies online from or renting copies from or

Once you get your course schedule, find all of your classrooms in advance. There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking in during the middle of a lecture on the first day. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you by taking a walk around the campus and locating all of your classrooms, using a campus map to get your bearings.

Take part in Welcome Week activities. Your school will probably offer a few days packed with games and activities designed to help you meet fellow students and get used to the school. Though some of the activities may not exactly fit your interests, it’s important to get involved—this is a great opportunity to find new friends before you even start classes.

Find out about clubs, intramural sports teams, and the Greek scene. During the first few days of school, most colleges’ various activity groups will set up information booths, where representatives can talk to freshmen about what’s involved in joining or participating in a club. Scout out the groups that appeal to you, and come prepared with questions. If you’re thinking about getting involved in the campus Greek scene, this is also a great time to work out which fraternity or sorority seems like the best fit, and find out about their welcome mixers.

Get your student ID card and rent a fridge as early as possible. Your student ID card is your key to all sorts of campus activities, from meals to gym use, so be sure to get your photo taken for your school ID as early as possible, to avoid long lines. Also, unless you’ve purchased your own mini-fridge, you’ll want to rent one from the school—so be sure to register for one before they’re all gone.

Talk to your academic advisor and your R.A. During the first week of school, it can be helpful to schedule one-on-one meetings with both your academic advisor (who helps you with managing your course load and other academic matters) and your resident advisor (an older student who can help you navigate the rest of college life). If you have particular concerns about either academic or social issues at college, these people are trained to provide you with the support you need.

Send your parents home. Though it can be tempting to keep your parents around for moral support as long as possible, once they’ve helped you with anything you need parental assistance for (unpacking your luggage, dealing with the financial aid office, etc.), let them head back home. It may feel a little scary to be on your own, but you’ll get used to it soon—and just remember, all the other freshmen are in the exact same situation. You’re sure to find a friend or two among them.