While I and the rest of the student staff members have been moved into our room for a couple of weeks now, freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior residents are starting to move in. I don’t have any of my own residents this year, but I am living on the same floor as I did my last year. Five of my residents from last year are living in their same rooms again, too, which is really awesome. While I most likely will never know whether or not I had an impact on those residents’ decision to return to campus housing, I do know that I always tried to let all of my residents know about the many, many ways to get involved on campus, especially in campus housing. There are a lot of options, and they can truly change your college experience. If I had never gotten involved with all of the things I did here at UIC, I would be pretty unhappy person and would feel really lonely and unattached to the university. But because I joined as much as I could, I feel very committed to UIC, I enjoy what I’m doing every step of the way, and I have made some incredible friends.
Although every resident’s RA or Peer Mentor will urge them to get involved and truly become a part of campus housing, I am not necessarily saying this as a resident assistant this time, but as a resident- get involved! Now is the time and certainly the place. What better way to get the most out of college? Here are my tips to get involved within UIC Campus Housing:
1. Attend the New Student Days Events. This events are a great way to get oriented with the city of Chicago. You get to experience some really cool things at a discounted price. Other freshmen attend, providing you with an opportunity to get to know others, and the chaperones (RAs/PMs/supervisors) know all about how you can get even more involved. If the ticketed events are already signed up for, there are a ton of free ones you can check out. I don’t recommend missing these.
2. Get to know your clustermates/roommate/floormates. You’re going to be living with these people for the entire year. It’s ridiculous to ignore them or never get to know them, and think about how fantastic it would be if you became friends. Make a point to introduce yourself to them and to get to know them as well. Try inviting them to lunch in the cafeteria or to a Target run. They could wind up being your first friends here.
3. Go to programs. There are actually about 3 million programs planned for you in the first few weeks. Ok, not actually, but the point is there is a lot to do, and all of it is for you! Take advantage of this and attend everything that even remotely interests you…especially because once the school year starts, you won’t be able to go to as many programs because of homework and responsibilities. This is another great way to make friends, have a good time, and hear from staff members about other things you can do to get more involved.
4. Go to RHA. The Residence Hall Association is a great way to be a part of Campus Housing and your residence hall. If you live in housing, you are automatically considered to be a general assembly member. The meetings are every Wednesday at 7pm, and the first one is the first Wednesday of the school year. There are always awesome raffles and, frequently, discounted student tickets to events like Broadway plays or sports. Their meetings usually have a useful topic/guest speaker/program. Plus, you’ll get the latest updates before residents who don’t come to the meetings!
5. Look at posters on the walls & check your email. Pay attention to signage, whether its papers on the walls, emails in your inbox, or postings on social media. Either way, there is a lot of great stuff going on around housing, and you don’t want to become poster blind (stop seeing them and get acclimated to their presence) or one of those people who immediately deletes emails before checking their contents. All of these things are a way of contacting you and getting your attention to notify you of something that may potentially interest you. Get into and stay in the habit of looking at these things and knowing what is going on.
6. Join an executive board. There is a lot going on in housing, and thanks to hall councils (sort of like student councils for college and specifically pertaining to the residence halls), you are able to apply to be on an executive board almost immediately after you move in. This causes instant-friendships, a strong knowledge of how things work in housing, and experience for any other positions you may care to take on in the future.
7. Ask your RA/PM for other ideas on how to get involved. Beyond everything I’ve mentioned, there are even more ways to get involved and feel at home. Your RA/PM have a wealth of knowledge of things you can do and ways in which you can do it. Go ahead and ask them-they would love to have that conversation and get you linked up to the right people/place/etc. It’s one of the things they are here for!
Don’t waste this precious time you have in college-try to fill it with as much as possible that would still keep you sane. Find what you enjoy and run with it. There’s at least one thing here for everyone…it’s just a matter of figuring out what that thing or those things are for you on an individual level. Good luck!