It’s pretty much a universal truth that no one’s ever relaxed by being told to relax, but URI’s resident assistants are going to try anyway.
Fears of loneliness or failure are normal but not likely to happen, URI’s RAs say. The University’s 150 RAs have been on campus for the past two weeks preparing for the arrival of first-year students. Training includes planning community-building activities and strategies to foster a sense of belonging among new students.
Jeremiah Garcia ’22, a self-described former introvert and one of eight siblings, says he found it easier to get overlooked at home. “My RAs pushed me to become the person I always wanted to be,” he says. “With help from my RAs, I broke out of my shell.”
Jeff Bodendorf ’23 smiles as he recalls being “dragged” by his RAs to meals and events. Holing up in his room was not an option. “Our main goal is to give first-year students the opportunity to have a great year,” he says. “Don’t worry about your kid.”
Aisling Macaraeg ’23 nods in agreement. “My ‘why’ in life is to help others and to assist people in a multitude of ways,” she adds. “URI is a great place to be on your own for the first time. It has everything you need.”
Lagzacine Alexandra ’23, a first-generation immigrant student adds, “No matter what, know that you belong here. My grandmother worried that I wouldn’t do well, but I learned everyone’s here to help you.”
10 tips for a successful year
Here’s what the experts say:
- Ask for help. Alexandra found herself crying in the library, struggling with the weight of the pressures that come of being a first-generation college student. “Failure was not an option for me, and I was used to doing things for myself,” she says. “When I asked for help, I learned people here want to see you succeed.”
- Be open-minded. New people and new cultures make for exciting experiences, Garcia says. “Go to the dining hall; go to your RA’s programs. You’re going to meet people.”
- Practice self-care and healthy habits. “We understand it’s frustrating to mask to go to the shower,” Macaraeg says, “but it’s about keeping everyone safe.”
- Let go of your fear of failure. “You don’t have to live up to everyone else’s expectations,” Garcia says. “Pace yourself and practice self-care.”
- Be friendly. “Everyone’s worried about making friends,” Bodendorf says. “So many people are thinking the same things you are.”
- Join a club. “We have 180 clubs,” Alexandra says. “And if you don’t see one you like, create one.”
- Get organized. “I time block my days out in Google calendar,” Macaraeg says. “Use sticky notes, Google calendar, a physical planner but get organized.”
- Go to your professors’ office hours and use academic support services. “In high school, getting tutoring signaled being behind,” Bodendorf says. “That’s not the case here.”
- Advocate for yourself. “Allow yourself to grow your dream,” Alexandra says. “You will make it through no matter what.”
- Reach out to your RA. “We’re here to help and educate,” Macaraeg says. “We’re not here to get you in trouble,” Bodendorf adds.