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Did the fall semester get past you? Were there things that you wanted to do, but did not have the opportunity to complete?  Did you learn about opportunities or organizations when it was too far into the semester?  Spring semester provides another chance to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities you missed in the fall semester.  Each semester offers new opportunities to engage and try new things. If there are things you were unable to accomplish, participate in, or finish, use the new semester as a fresh start. 

Each semester also offers a new opportunity for change.  There will be students who change universities, graduate from school, or rearrange responsibilities due to schedule demands.  These changes will provide possible new opportunities for jobs, involvement, and exposure.  So, do not be afraid to ask about a vacancy, seek membership, or dive deeper into new found passions.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

1.       Attend Rush and learn more about Greek Life on campus.

2.       Visit the Work-Study office for possible jobs

3.       Go to an organization fair and see what options are available on campus.

4.       Talk to a professor or your advisor about opportunities to get involved in the department.

5.       Reach out to a classmate that is already involved and learn about any upcoming opportunities.

6.       Consider local government and run for a position in your classes election.  Help with someone else’s campaign or serve as an election judge.

7.       Apply to be an RA for the fall semester. Applications are due early spring semester and may require a 2 or 3 step interview process.

8.       Read posters and flyers on campus for possible information about events and opportunities.

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The semester is winding down you are probably celebrating the completion of finals and ready to unplug.  While you spent time developing in the classroom and you were also developing outside the classroom as well.  One of your daily development opportunities is your interaction with your roommate(s).  The end of the semester is a good time to assess how things are going with your current living situation and to start thinking about next semester.  You and your roommate should have developed a friendship and if you are lukewarm to friendship, there should be a level of respect.

How do you and your roommate communicate?  Do you handle disagreements in a respectful manner?  Are you prepared to complete another semester with your current roommate?  Do you have any concerns?  Are they major concerns like health, safety, and ability to comfortably use your room? Are you a positive influence on each other?  These are questions you need to consider as you enter the new semester.

If you are experiencing major issues, those that are preventing you from comfortably enjoying your room, are safety threats, or those that may jeopardize your success in school, you need to address them before starting a new semester.  You should attempt to talk to your roommate and see if you are able to resolve.  If you are unable to resolve, you should consult your resident advisor.  If there are major concerns, that may be not be resolved you should explore a room transfer. The room transfer may not be an option, as there are several factors that impact the transfer.  A transfer may incur a fee, there may not be anywhere to transfer you or your transfer options will be limited, and it will require you to pack and move all of your belongings.  Another major factor to consider before transferring is really evaluating your current situation.  It is good to know wat you currently have, as entering a new situation will be encountering the unknown.  All the work that you have put into your current living situation, will also be required in your new situation.  This time you will be coming into an already established living arrangement, you will need to get to know your new roommate(s), and develop a new system, learn expectations, and earn each other’s respect.

If things are going well (and even if they are not) while thinking about next semester you also need to consider next year as well.  Housing selection for next year will occur rather early in the semester and if you wait until the end of the semester you may run the risk of not having housing or not obtaining your top choices.  Housing options to consider upperclassmen building, Greek Life housing, on or off campus apartment, or stay where you currently reside.  Whichever decision you choose, you will need to make a commitment as early as February (this is typically priority deadline for on-campus housing) and some started back in October (off campus housing recruitment can begin as early as October).

While you gear up for your winter break.  Take a few moments to reflect on your housing situation this semester and think about your housing options for next year.  This will serve as a great discussion piece with your parents over the break.  Let them know how things are going, get another perspective, and discuss options for next year.

As you are nearing the midway point of your semester, take a minute and think about your relationship with your roommate. Do you love your roommate, you get along great and you have no issues? Or, like so many students, are you struggling with conflict with your roommate but aren’t sure what your options are? This is the time to truly think about how you feel, especially as you make decisions about roommates for next semester or next year, depending on your university. Don’t feel obligated to stay with someone if it isn’t working for you, and don’t feel like it’s too late for you to get a roommate if you’ve lived alone this semester.

If you lived alone this semester and you’d like a roommate for next year, talk to your RA or landlord. Sometimes just having a conversation can help them keep you in mind the next time someone is looking for an apartment, or your RA can pass on to the housing office that you would like a roommate. Many times throughout the year, residents move in and out of their rooms, and so it’s very likely that you would get a roommate if you remove the “live alone” option.

If you have a roommate now but it’s not working out for you, take stock of the situation. Why are you having these issues? If they are simple issues like they’re eating all your food, constantly having people over, or they aren’t sharing the responsibilities of cleaning equally, then first try talking to your roommate frankly. Explain to them how their behavior affects you, and you just might find that is enough to solve the problem. A lot of times, your roommate is not even aware that you are upset and they can be totally blindsided when you want to move on to another roommate. After you have talked to your roommate, if the situation does not improve that is the time to involve your RA. Don’t let this wait until the end of the year and during finals week start talking about how much you hate your roommate, go to your RA now and explain the situation. They can facilitate a meeting between you and your roommate that might help mediate the situation, and they can involve their supervisor if room changes need to happen.

The important thing to remember with roommates is that this is a learning experience, for you and for them. Depending on the set-up in your residential hall, you could be sharing a room and/or a bathroom with multiple people who all come from different backgrounds and have different viewpoints, and this can create conflict. The key to good roommate relations is communication. Don’t ignore problems as they arise, take the time to talk about them. Along with that, do not shut your roommate out if they come to you to complain about one of your behaviors. Take their complaint seriously and try to make sure your behavior is not creating a hostile environment. College roommates can either be cordial or friends for life, but there is no reason you should have to live in a battleground. Respect and communication will help make your roommate experience a positive one instead of a horror story.

It’s that time of year to start thinking about housing plans for next year! Are you going to live on campus or off campus? Do you have a friend in mind to live with, or are you searching for a new roommate? This is the perfect time to start making decisions about next year, especially if you are going to be signing a lease off campus.

Choosing a roommate is a very important task, but can sometimes be very tricky. It’s natural to think that you and your three best friends would have a blast living together, but living together is very different from just hanging out all the time. Does your best friend have an annoying habit that just drives you crazy? If so, living with them may cause you to notice that habit even more often, and can lead to fights. As Chapter 2 of the Freshman Survival Guide says, there are little things we ignore about our friends because we care about the friendship more, but when it’s a roommate doing something that bothers you, you need to feel comfortable speaking up.

With that in mind, think about how you’re going to choose a roommate. Does your university have a roommate matching service that you can use? Are you searching around on Facebook groups or planning to put an ad in the paper? Whatever method you use to find a roommate, remember that honesty is key. Tell your potential roommate things you do and don’t like, and what you’re like as a roommate. Don’t say that you keep your room spotless and like cleanliness when the truth is you clean your room once a week and let everything pile up in between. If there is something that makes you uncomfortable such as significant others spending the night or drinking in the room, say so! You owe it to both yourself and your potential roommate to be honest so that each of you can find a roommate that you will be happy living with, not one that will have you calling your mom every day complaining.

If you do end up living with someone you don’t already know, plan to get to know them before you move in together! If you live on campus, most universities will tell you your roommates ahead of time. Send them a message introducing yourself and asking about them. Plan together how you will decorate your room or which big items you will bring. If you have a fridge, could they bring a microwave? If they have a TV, could you bring your PS4? Having these conversations ahead of time will prevent an overcrowded room, and help both of you cut down on costs. Roommates are an important part of the college experience, so do your homework and plan ahead!

Spring Break 2015 is almost here, and it seems like everyone you know is headed to the beach, back home, or some other epic trip. If you aren’t planning to travel, staying on your campus can feel isolating and like there is nothing to do. Campus is deserted, all your friends are gone, and for all that we may plan to do our homework over break, no one ever really wants to do that.

Spending spring break on campus can be a very rewarding experience. It’s peaceful, there’s no one coming into the hall at 3 AM and waking you up, and you can still sleep in your own bed and not a hotel somewhere. This is the perfect time to take advantage of some opportunities that might slip away from you during the craziness that can be a school week. Here are some ideas for what you can do without breaking the bank and traveling.

Check out the local movie theater. Since you’re not in class, you can attend matinee shows which are much cheaper than regular showings. Go see that movie you’ve wanted to see for a while, and treat yourself to some popcorn with your leftover ticket money. Chances are the theater will be quite empty with most college students and local school families traveling. If movies aren’t quite your style, see what’s being offered on campus. A lot of universities plan activities during spring break for students who didn’t go home or who aren’t able to do so for whatever reason. This can be a good way to make some new friends and to get some free food. This is also right around the time that outdoor sports are really taking off, so get out there and watch a game or two! Watch your campus team if they have any home games during your break, and if not try checking out some local community teams. Who knows, it may inspire you to join!

The important thing about spring break to remember is just that-it’s a break. Take advantage of this time free of classes to relax and recuperate for the rest of the semester. Sleep in, go to the gym, play some video games, or go for a walk. Now is the time to enjoy those activities that make you feel rested while you have the chance. Spring break doesn’t have to be about beaches and partying, it’s about whatever you will enjoy for the week or so you have off school. Make the most of it.

You may think that flu season is gone, but don’t be too sure. Allergies and colds can still come around, even as the nice weather comes back. Don’t forget to check in with the health center on campus if you feel you’re getting sick. Getting enough sleep and eating enough during the day will help you stay healthy too. A good way to stay healthy and relieve stress is by working out. Take a yoga class, do Zumba, lift weights or run. Grab a friend and take a walk around campus. Any little step, is a step in the right direction.

Now that the weather is starting to get better, and the semester seems to be nearing its end, it is easy to think that we have everything figured out. It is extremely hard to get out of the funk we may have had when winter hit us all hard. The work seems to never end, snow days pile up, and who could resist staying inside your comfy, warm bed on a cold day? Even as the nice weather comes, and the end of Freshman year heads your way, don’t forget to take advantage of the support groups you have. Your family and friends are always there for you, even if you fight now and again. There is always a counseling center on campus that has trained counselors willing to listen to whatever you have to say. Sometimes, just saying your stresses out loud, helps relieve some of the stress.

We, the iRA team, are also here for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have.

 

I could sit here and write a huge blog on the importance of having a good resume when looking for summer jobs and internships, but I’m not. I could post my resume and say “these are the things you NEED to do in order to get your resume noticed”, but that won’t help you either. I am a firm believer in getting your resume done as soon as you can, and constantly editing it. Keep a few different variations of it, and ALWAYS have someone look at it. Have 5 people look at, if you want. Each person will have their own opinions on your resume, and take their advance as you see fit. Don’t forget that your college career center is a GREAT resource for getting your resume looked at, and for giving you interview tips.

Here is an article I found that I thought was EXTREMELY helpful to me as I continue to tweak my own resume.