Living in student housing definitely has it ups and downs. There are a few options
for students as far as housing goes, including whether you want to live on or
off campus. Let's begin with on-campus housing, which is a popular choice
that is not just for first year students anymore.
"Residence life" is the terminology used to describe the comprehensive
program that surrounds the experience of living "on-campus" in a residence
hall or at a college or university. Residence life is usually structured with
planned events (also known as "programming"), a code of conduct and/or
ethics, and a relatively large array of staff, ranging from Psychology majors
to professional secretaries.
Residence Life is often one responsibility of a larger Housing office or department.
On some campuses, however, residence life and housing are responsibilities of
separate departments or organizations. Residence Life, or the department which
encompasses it, usually reports to the Division of Student Affairs. On campuses
with a separate Housing department, it is not uncommon for that department to
report to the Business Services or Auxiliary Services division or area, as most
of their responsibilities will be financial, legal, and physical (as opposed
to the developmental nature of "pure" Residence Life).
Residence Life professionals typically possess a Master's degree in college
student personnel, higher education, counseling, or a related field. Typical
Residence Life departments are overseen by a director, associate director, or
assistant director. These positions may be "live-on" (required to
live on-campus), depending on the needs of the university and the size of the
staff required to be on-call to respond to student emergencies. Many campuses
also employ graduate students or entry-level professionals that directly supervise
the RAs and other undergraduate staff (such as desk workers). These staff are
variously referred to as Hall Directors (HDs), Resident Directors (RDs), or
Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs). The titles vary between institutions, with
some institutions using the same title to refer to their graduate student staff
that another uses for their entry-level staff. These staff members are "live-in"
(required to live in the residence hall, often in a larger or otherwise extraordinary
space) or live-on to fulfill their frequent on-call duties. These are the individuals
to go to when you are having problems with one of your classes, or fighting
with your roommate about the incessant noise of their air conditioners. They
are a kind and caring group of people who are there to support you through the
tougher times and celebrate your victories with you.
Typically, each residence hall also employs several Resident Assistants, or
RAs. These are undergraduate or graduate students who are tasked with helping
the students living in their residence building hallway get to know each other.
Resourceful RAs can use a variety of planned or spontaneous events to this end.
They are also charged with enforcing university rules and regulations and providing
general assistance to students. RAs are often reimbursed with free or discounted
room, free or discounted board, a stipend, or even all three. On most campuses,
RAs receive intense training at the beginning of the academic year. In addition
to ongoing training, some campuses have several days of training at the beginning
of the second semester. If the residence hall has a front desk or area office,
it is often manned by students who provide assistance to the residents such
as accepting packages delivered to the residence hall, reporting maintenance
problems, or opening doors for residents who have lost their keys (often for
a charge). There are many ways to get involved with your residence and these
are just some of the volunteer opportunities that may exist at your school.
Getting involved is a great way to meet new friends and open doors in your future. You never know, maybe one day you'll start a million dollar business with someone you met in residence doing lending!
There is also the option of living off campus, perhaps in a downtown condominium on your own, or with several roommates in a modern home or
an old Victorian home, for example. This choice gives you much more freedom,
since you will not have an RA to answer to when you come home really late at
night, yet there is also a greater responsibility associated with this type
of student housing, including paying bills on time, setting up services such
as hydro, and water, and maintaining the shared areas and keeping them clean.
Some would say that living in a home off campus better prepares student for
graduation, when they will be moving out of student housing and looking at the
homes for sale in Oshawa based, or wherever your career takes you. Choosing the
right type of housing can play a large part in your academic success during