It's the Res' Life.

              As someone who once patrolled the dingy hallways of the stereotypical public high school environment, I, like innumerable other youth of my day, had the “I-Know-Everything-About-Anything” disorder. As a young’in, I was already biologically fated to feel this way, but as an Honors student taking AP Classes, I probably could have written you a research paper documenting scientific proof that I, indeed, was a wise, thoughtful young woman who knew exactly what to expect down the road, and how to face it.

           HA. AHA. HA.

          Then, college. The big shebang. That inescapable, ominous, career-necessary entity that had permeated the purpose of my education since elementary school. Got an “S” for satisfactory instead of an “O” for outstanding in fourth grade? Well, how is that gonna look on your transcript when applying to universities of higher learning, young lady? 

          Well, okay, maybe not that extreme, but certainly in high school, everything becomes about preparing you to go to college, which I think is funny. Okay, maybe there are some still dread homework like it’s going to suck you into the page. You still may have those awkward moments when you think “Exactly where do I fit in here?” And the cafeteria is marginally better, specifically because college cafeteria supplies coffee. But the similarities stop there.

        The people in charge here at the University of Alaska saw that. And that’s where Residence Life comes in.

         Everyone in their first year at the University goes through the EDGE program, specifically designed for freshman and incoming students. A common misconception about Residence Life is usually that they either hold your hand through your first year, or they smack it repeatedly until it’s red and raw. Neither are true. Residence Life, through their Resident Assistants (RA’s), Resident Directors (RD’s) and other staff, are there namely to help, but mostly to ease the adjustment into the off-key Narnias called the dorms. A few key things they like to help you learn as painlessly as possible:

      1) Remember that movie American Pie? That is not your visual college study guide. Yes, you will find drama and romance and slapstick and overall humiliation all around during your college years. But more importantly, you’ll be finding friendships, knowledge (not always about classes), mentors, and growing as a person from those “humiliating” moments that you shall find hilarious. Just give it time.

     2) I get it. I remember the days when I could glance at a chapter for five minutes and be set for a test. I remember the days when if the option “all of the above” came up a multiple choice test, you ALWAYS chose it (and consequently were ALWAYS right). Those were some good times. Those times aren’t gonna happen anymore. Studying is a good habit to develop now, during easier classes, than to have to learn how to study a day before finals. Residence Life knows this too, and that’s why they have the Peer Mentor program--remember those really smart people in your classes that wreck the curve? They’re sitting in the office, yearning to show you their secrets. Go, young Padawon. Do, or--actually, just do. Not even gonna give you the “do not” option.

     3)  Most importantly, Residence Life knows that moving to the middle of the biggest state in the country can be a little...what’s the word...lonely. Sure, it’s beautiful, but you can only stare out your window at the snow for so long in between study breaks before you start to wonder, there are still people around at 40 below, right? As a Resident Assistant, I’m one of Res Life’s main soldiers in the field, and we help build that authentic community in the dorms. Whether we’re just sitting around playing pool, complaining about the cold (while simultaneously slipping into swimsuits to pose in front of the sign outside for a picture), or planning dances and shows, we’re here to foster those relationships between students that not even negative temperatures can shatter. 

          Plus, there’s always food. Lots of food. Because college kids like food. Food is good.

In short, Res Life can get a bad rap. Enforcing policies never really rubs everyone the right way. But when they succeed--whether it’s helping that one kid pass that test he needed to pass the class, or introducing two roommates that will be friends until they’re fifty, or making some memories about that one night that frostbite was worth that awesome picture--then that’s the amazing kind of triumph. And that’s when we can truly say, “Welcome to college”.

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