For many college students living in the dorms, RAs are the bane of their existence. Whenever things start to get too loud, too rowdy, or too fun, the RA is there, swooping down from the sky like a bat in the night telling you to keep it down and threatening you with all sorts of punishments. But the fact of the matter is, that even though we might view the RAs as the "fun police," that's not their job at all. In fact, in some cases, your RA can actually be your best friend and really make your time living in the dorms 150% more enjoyable. Here are the things that your RAs wish they could tell you, and that you should know when dealing with your RA.
Yes, it always seems like whenever you're night is starting to hit its crescendo that the RA appears like a ghost to tell you to stop the party early. But this has nothing to do with you specifically. The fact of the matter is that the RA's job is to keep the dorms a safe environment conducive to learning for everyone. Even though you might have the luxury of having a late-night this particular night, some students have tests, projects, or early morning classes. If the RA is coming in to stop the party it's probably just because other students need to get their sleep. Best move? Check with your neighbors and make sure that it's an okay night to have a party, that way the RA has no reason to shut everyone down early.
Don't forget, RAs are students too, and they've been given an assignment by the faculty to keep the dorms a place that nurtures learning and safety. But if you talk to your RA person-to-person you'll probably be surprised to discover that they've enjoyed their fair share of late-night fun as well, and have nothing against it. Unless you're an absolute jerk to them, RAs don't want to write you up for every little infraction, and are probably more than happy to look the other way if you're having a little harmless fun that doesn't bother anyone else. So be polite, talk to them, and you'll be stunned at how much your RA will have your back.
RAs are people too, and they're not much older than you. Most of them are happy to be your friend, and they want to see you succeed and be happy with your time in the dorms. At the same time, they have a duty to perform, and most friends probably wouldn't be happy to mediate a hall argument or let you into your room at 3 in the morning after you've forgotten your key. So cut your RA some slack now and again when their duties go against your interests, they're not doing it because they enjoy bumming you out, it's just their job.
College can be a fun time, but it can also be very stressful. For many of us the pressure of having to navigate classes alone, combined with having to make major life decisions while being far away from our families can lead to us feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or even depressed. RAs are more than happy to help in situations like this. In fact, they go through seminars where they learn about all the resources the school has to offer students having a tough time, and can point you to where you should go to help you feel a bit better. Don't be afraid to turn to your RA if you're feeling down.
Okay, so we've talked a lot about how being nice and friendly to your RA can produce tons of positive results for you, but what should you talk to them about? Well, don't forget that your RA is a student just like you; all the stresses, pressure, and realities that you're facing at your new college are also being felt by them as well. Looking for someone to talk to about upcoming midterms? Your RA has that. What about boyfriend/girlfriend problems? Your RA might actually have some terrific advice about navigating those challenges, or at the very least you guys can bond over some shared realities. Don't think of your RA as a parent, they're much more a peer to you than most authority figures that you're probably used to.
Most people become RAs because they want to help the incoming freshmen adjust to life in college. Yes, a lot of them do it for the free room as well but there is a satisfaction that many of them feel after helping a new student navigate a seemingly insurmountable challenge. So remember, that while your RA might get annoyed or frustrated from time to time (remember, they're human too) the reality is they love their job the most when they're helping out the people who need them. So don't feel like you're a pain to your RA, if you need them, go to them.
There's a reason that the people who become RAs also tend to be the people who excel academically and have lots of close friendships. These are the people who care, and want to be their best selves for everyone in their lives. If they didn't care about you then they wouldn't drag themselves out of bed at any hour of the night to let you in, or be there for you when you're having problems. The reason the job is so tough and stressful for them is that they put a lot of heart into being there for people. Don't forget, all of this is being done in addition to the copious amounts of academic work and extracurriculars that they have as well.
When many people look back on their freshman year, they often think of their RAs. For those people, having a good RA probably made all the difference between having an okay freshman year vs having an incredible time during that first year in college. For the RAs themselves, that is music to their ears. It is a special feeling to know that you've had an incredibly positive impact on someone's life, and as an RA you have the opportunity to work hard all year knowing that you may have possibly set someone up on the path to success in college. So if you can, and if you feel like they put in the effort, feel free to give your RA a "thank you" every once in awhile - we promise you that they appreciate it.