Tag Archives: residence life

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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Myths of Residence Life: A Series

I had this idea after housing assignments went out to write about all of the complaints that were coming in from the parents. I listed them down. And then I inadvertently wrote an ENTIRE post about just ONE of those complaints. Oops. So instead, while I am celebrating (and recovering from) my first big girl vacation, you can enjoy the Myths of Residence Life.

If you have any of your own myths that you would like to add, leave them in the comments!

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What I DIDN’T Do On My Summer Vacation

I cannot believe that summer is over. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was making my summer to do list and thinking of all the time I would have to do things since I wouldn’t have students popping in every few minutes. Boy, was I wrong!

Some student affairs professionals have ten month contracts meaning that they don’t work during the summer. While a two month vacation sounds lovely, I kind of collected student loans like Beanie Babies and I need every cent I can get.

Unfortunately, unlike Beanie Babies, my student loans ARE worth tons of money.

I really thought that I’d have time to get all this stuff done. Most of the things on my to do list were things I wanted to do…I wasn’t taking departmental things into consideration because I had never done any of that stuff before. Next year when I’m planning for summer I will definitely know better!

So what was on my to do list?

To Do: Clean My Office

I really wanted to re-organize EVERYTHING and make my office look brand new by the time the RAs returned for training. I had all of these grand plans. My office was going to look like something off of Pinterest.

What Got Done

I did move old files into a filing cabinet to make room for things from this year. I also went through the mountain of papers on my desk…only for a new mountain to start growing. I’ll take care of it during Christmas Break.

To Do: Update The Website

I wish updating my department’s website was more like this…I could log on whenever and update it myself. But that’s not how it works. I have to send whatever changes I want to make to this IT person and he has to do it. There were some sections of our site that were in DESPERATE need of an update and I decided I would do that this summer.

What Got Done

I passed it off to a new employee. She needs to meet people in a different department, so IT’s a great place to start, right?

To Do: A Bulletin Board In Each Building

I wanted to do a bulletin board in each of my building’s entryways. I thought it would give the RAs a good example and be visually pleasing for all of our lovely summer residents. I saw so many cute bulletin board ideas on Pinterest and in the teacher supply store.

What Got Done:

I bought cute bulletin board supplies…that’s about as far as I got.

 

So what am I going to do next summer? STAY OFF PINTEREST!! Pinterest just gives me wonderful ideas that I don’t have the time or creativity to follow through with. I’m also going to put departmental things on my to do list (like planning RA training and training the new hires) and give those items timelines so I can fit my own tasks in more realistically. Did you do everything you wanted to this summer?

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So You’re In Grad School: September

Clearly, August and September are busy times when you work in Student Affairs. First impressions count, especially for incoming students. Even without taking classes, I’ve had barely any free time the past month or so!

If you’re a first year student…

By now you are anywhere from one to four weeks into your first semester. Depending on what you studied in undergrad, there might have been (or still may be) a rocky adjustment period as you get used to the workload, the way it’s taught, and the course materials. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to have to read anything. Few of my Undergrad U courses actually used the book, and besides, the lecture was basically a presentation about what we just read. It was COMPLETELY different once I was a grad student. We were expected to discuss what we had read. That was class. Discussion. So I swung completely the opposite way and thought I had to read EVERYTHING. That also did not work. I drove myself insane. There were not enough hours in the day. Eventually, I became really good at prioritizing and skimming and bullshitting discussion topics in a pinch.

You also might feel homesick. Or undergrad sick. I’ve said it a thousand times, but grad school is DIFFERENT. One of my friends decided to go to Grad School State and she’s having a rough time with it. She says she doesn’t like it. I know she likes her classes and professors…but she hasn’t really made any friends yet. A big difference is that she’s not studying Student Affairs, her program isn’t cohort based. I definitely need to make time to chat with her soon. It’s hard to make friends as a grown up. My advice? Put yourself out there. Find something to join. Organize an event and invite the people you know and tell them to bring the people they know.

One thing that I didn’t have too much of an issue with was being busy with work. I worked part time (and sometimes more!) my entire way through undergrad. Balancing work and school was completely normal. I had other friends that struggled though. Some never worked while they were in college. Others had non-ResLife assistantships and struggled to get all their hours in each week around our class schedule. One issue was if we were doing group projects, it was hard for ResLifers and non-ResLifers to work together just because our work hours were so different. I had programs to attend at night, I couldn’t be doing homework then. At the same time, they had office hours during the day, so clearly they could not work on homework at that time!

If it’s your second year…

So you (successfully) made it through your first year and you’re probably thinking that you have this grad school thing down. You have a way of studying and doing homework and balancing everything that works for you. Great, share those tips with some of the first year students. They need the help. Also, hey, first years need friends. Go befriend one!

Unfortunately, you can’t plan for everything. In your second year, you’re going to be starting your job search. Your program may require a comprehensive exam or that you do an internship. Your supervisor or other higher ups at your assistantship might decide that you’re getting more responsibility. All of those things could happen at once! So if you’re a second year student reading this, remember to keep calm and carry on breathe.

 

 

I hope you all enjoy September, no matter what year student you are, or even if you’ve graduated (like me!).

 

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So You’re In Grad School: August

Here we are. The start of a new school year. This is when I should have started my SYIGS series, you know, so it started with the school year. Oh well. If you’re new to this, SYIGS provides some tips as well as gives information on what to expect in a Student Affairs-esque grad school program. Everything I write is based on MY experience at Grad School State…your program might be somewhat different, but it shouldn’t be TOO drastic.

If you’re a first year student…

You’re probably getting ready to leave for grad school if you haven’t already. I’ve said it time and time again – grad school is VERY different from undergrad. It’s an adjustment and it will take you some time to get used to it. That’s okay. Oh, and you’ll probably also learn a theory that will later explain your behavior during this time period.

My first few weeks at GSS were jam packed with training for my assistantship…why yes, I was in ResLife! Not only did I have training for my position, but I also sat through all of RA training so I could know the campus and the procedures better. It was a big help, especially since GSS and Undergrad U were VERY different institutions.

GSS held a graduate school orientation. The ResLife office made sure to have it on their schedule so us newbies wouldn’t be missing anything important. It wasn’t like the fun-filled orientation that I went through as a student and that I saw GSS freshmen going through. No campus tours, no entertainment, no ice breakers. I was so confused! I went to a resource fair, but instead of showcasing the different departments on campus, I was provided with bank and insurance options. At one point I was told I needed to pick up my student ID, but I didn’t know where to do that! It was at this moment that I realized graduate student services is an area that will probably be on the upswing in the next few years…

Another eye opener was that there were a lot of people in my program OLDER than me. Many of the students had graduated from college and worked “real” jobs before realizing they hated being mindless corporate robots whatever they were doing and making the decision to start a new career. So at the end of the day while I wanted to go to the bar and get to know my new classmates, they had homes and husbands to get home to. Who does that?

I guess all of my previous “points” have been stories about my experiences, my major tip for this month is DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. I can promise you that there will be somebody in your program or working at your assistantship who thinks they “know everything” and will roll their eyes at your question, but do not let that deter you! Training and orientation are the times to ask questions!

If this is your second year…

You might be a little bored right now. I’m sure there are training things that you are being forced to go to that you feel you don’t need to go to because obviously you learned it all before. Obviously. Yes, you might be bored, but please don’t let this attitude show! It might stop one of the new students from asking a question (see above).

I definitely recommend getting to know the new grad students in your program. Did you have a second year take you under their wing last year? Be that person for someone else! It is great to form a friendship like this now so you can help someone with this whole grad school process.

I had someone take me under their wing and then I took someone under my wing. I am in touch with both of these people. My “older” friend helped me as I was navigating the job search process. I just helped my “younger’ friend with hers and I also talked her through some tough decisions that she had to make during grad school.

No matter what year you are…

August is a crazy month for Student Affairs…students are returning, orientation is happening, training is happening, and of course there is a HUGE programming push during the first few weeks of school. Good luck to all of you out there!!

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Home Sweet Home

In the middle of finals week, I realized that for the first time in nearly ten years, I was going to be living in the same apartment for more than one year. I hadn’t really thought about it, but once things got real busy with move out, I noticed something was off. Oh, that’s right, I wasn’t incredibly stressed about my own move.

I absolutely hate everything about moving. I hate packing. I always think I have less crap than I do. I hate cleaning. Once everything is all packed away, you see all the dust left behind. And when you arrive in your new place, you have to clean. I hate dealing with the fridge. There’s always that debate about throwing things out and buying them at your new place or putting all your ketchup/salad dressings/condiments in a cooler and bringing them along. I hate dealing with the first shopping trip at the new place. There’s always so much to buy. Ugh.

The worst is that for the most part I always knew that I was going to be in my various apartments for a year (or less) so I would tell myself not to decorate, not to bring too much, not to make it homey. And of course I never listened to myself. In fact, this might have been the slowest I’ve ever unpacked an apartment…I still have yet to hang anything on the walls in two rooms!

As much as I hate moving, I feel like the yearly moves prevented me from winding up on Hoarders. When you’re moving at least once a year, you can’t take piles and piles of junk with you. While I feel like I’ve done a decent job at keeping my apartment clean, once I realized I wasn’t moving, I started to get anxious about it. Months and months ago (seriously, during the winter) I cleaned out my closet and made a pile to donate to Goodwill. That pile is still sitting in my bedroom. Oops.

So what crazy thing did I decide to do next? Oh, you know, just rearrange the whole apartment. By myself. I realized I was in trouble after I had emptied my desk and shelves and then realized everything was too heavy to move by myself. While my original intent was to make my apartment not look like a Hoarders episode, I accidentally did just that and now need to wait until someone can assist me in moving this heavy furniture.

Besides all the furniture moving, I have a few other ideas for decorating my apartment. Since I’m going to be here for awhile and all. I have a few pictures up, but my walls still feel pretty bare. I would LOVE to do something big to go behind my bed. Another thing I want to do is get a rug for my bedroom. While I don’t exactly have the funds to do any of these things at the moment, maybe I’ll get myself more settled in and decorate!

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Social Media Concerns

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my job before the days of social media. While I enjoy it for personal use, it honestly can make some days turn into a major headache once I get complaints of students using Facebook or Twitter to bully one another or to post pictures of things that they shouldn’t have in their rooms or apartments (yes, we do see your party pictures). I imagine that before Facebook, students shared pictures the same way they shared them when I was in middle school – getting them developed and passing the envelope around. Also, I know that before I had a digital camera, I took WAYYYY less pictures because it was so expensive!

I already mentioned that students posting pictures of inappropriate activities can get them in trouble. I had friends get in trouble for this my first year at Undergrad U. They had been drinking one night in their room with a few friends and took some pictures and of course posted them on Facebook and I believe somebody reported them to a Residence Life Professional so then of course they got in trouble. I’ve had other instances of students or friends posting about things in their room (street signs, pets) and get in trouble for that as well.

A more recent phenomenon has been these “Confessions” pages. Undergrad U has had a pretty active page for a month or two now, usually filled with things like “I think my RA is hot” or “I had sex in the library/locker room/bathroom/etc”. Most of the time these are harmless, but other times students talk about hurting themselves or others and we have no way to find out who posted it.

Students definitely don’t understand the consequences of posting certain things online. With Facebook, the things you posted are most certainly linked with your real name. Trust me, it’s not fun to have to go through years of pictures and un-tag or delete inappropriate photos. It’s even worse when you have message people you haven’t talked to in ages asking them to take down their photos they may have posted of you. I didn’t have a Facebook until I was in college, but some of these students have had Facebook since they were thirteen…that’s going to be a LOT of Facebook digging their senior year!

Now, it’s not like I go creeping on the internet looking for my students’ Facebook and Twitter accounts trying to get them in trouble. Trust me, I don’t want to see this stuff. The less I know, the better! But if we are made aware of something, we have to chat with the student about it. I usually hear a lot of, “I had no idea you could see that!”

Another issue that has been happening with Residence Life (and it’s something that started happening while I was still a student) is that after receiving their roommate assignment, a student will go look up his or her new roomie on Facebook. Sometimes, the parent does this. And then all hell breaks loose. “My child cannot live with this heathen! They have PARTY pictures on Facebook!” While Facebook can be great for roommates and other incoming students to get to know each other, it becomes a problem when a student uses Facebook to “play up” one aspect of his or her life.

What are some issues that social media has created at your job? How do you work with students on addressing social media concerns?

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A Review of My Internships

Technically, I had three internships during grad school. All three were in VERY different areas of student affairs, but one really just felt like an extension of my assistantship, so I tend to not count it.

One of my internships was with an office at a college that provided services to people with a range of…I’m going to say needs because I dislike the term “disabilities”…including test-taking accommodations (extended time, readers or writers, etc), note takers, physical accommodations (arranging for a private bathroom or ground level room), and many other things. I loved the work that the office did…the only thing was that I didn’t do enough of it! Shortly before I came on board, the director of the office left, so there were some transitional issues in the office. I don’t think the interim supervisor was ready to take on an intern and as a result, there really weren’t too many projects for me to work on. A lot of the time, I would just assist in whatever area needed help. One day I wrote someone’s test answers because the student had broken their arm in a snowboarding accident. I took on a LOT of tasks meant for student workers. I also did not have much interaction with students…something I really wanted seeing as I was going into student affairs!

Luckily, I wasn’t the only student in my program with internship issues. I think a lot of us didn’t realize that since these internships were meant for us to learn something, we could ask our supervisor to assign us tasks that would help us grow and develop the skills we wanted. As I went looking for my third internship, I thought about what I didn’t like about the past two…and yes I’m saying two because I really didn’t like that my not-really-an-internship didn’t teach me anything that I wasn’t taught due to my assistantship. Also, it was getting closer to graduation and I was beginning to think of what sort of job I wanted after graduation. I made sure to look for things that I knew were going to help me out.

This last internship was in a student activities office. I focused mostly on the “fun” stuff, like events and Greek life. There were multiple professionals working in the office, so even though I had one direct supervisor, I got to work with a lot of people! It was completely the opposite of my previous experience. The very first day I was there, one of the office workers walked me around campus, both to give me a tour and to introduce me to other campus administrators. The nature of my work had me interacting with students more frequently, but to provide even more chances for interaction, I wound up moving my “office” location so students could pass by and say hi. I was a much happier person at this internship!

Some tips when you are looking for an internship…

Ask your potential supervisor what type of projects he or she has in mind for you! You don’t want to be viewed as just an office assistant that is going to make copies and file things.

Tell your potential supervisor about some things that you would like experience with. Some might be projects you can do on your own, others might be things you’d assist with. Is he or she open to helping you get these experiences?

What are some things that you will NOT do? One of my internships (guess which one) was something that I absolutely did not want to do. I took it just to have something to do. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could have found something else. OR I could have spoken to my supervisor about what I wanted to get out of it. While I didn’t want to be an RD for the summer, I could have thought of some projects that I was interested in.

How have your internships gone? What are the most valuable things you’ve learned from them?

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Picking Favorites

Parents aren’t supposed to have favorite kids, right? Parents love all their children equally, even if Susie is pulling straight A’s while Sally is getting busted for smoking weed behind the 7-11. It’s only in the really messed up families that a parent picks an obvious favorite (or least favorite) child.

Perfect moment for this image.

And as a student affairs professional, I try not to have favorite students/residents/buildings/student groups/student leaders. But, just like siblings fight over this sort of thing, my students grumble about this constantly. “Why is she at that building’s event but not ours?” “How come she has a lunch meeting with him?” With the things these students know, I swear PDFM U has it’s very own Gossip Girl following me around and updating the students on my life.

“Spotted: The Author attending ABC’s Philanthropy Event”

Here’s the secret to how I choose which events to attend: I am a good, dedicated, overworked, entry-level student affairs professional. I also have no life. SO. If you invite me to something and I have the time free, I will 98% of the time be there. The students that accuse me of “never coming to anything” NEVER INVITE ME TO ANYTHING. Or…on a slightly more annoying note, the thing the students invite me to is something that as a professional, I CANNOT attend.

Remember back in college, everybody joked about this triangle?

I believe I chose good grades and social life, because I honestly don’t remember ever getting a good night’s sleep.

Well, that triangle still exists except the labels have changed – they are now me, students, and booze. You can still only pick two. If there are students and booze, I cannot be there. If there is me and booze, there sure as hell better not be students there. If there are students but no booze, I can be there. Maybe I should make a flowchart with this and distribute it to my students so they know what sort of events to invite me to…

I feel like I’ve mentioned it before, but in my almost one year here at PDFM U, there are some students who have gone out of their way to get to know me. I really appreciate that. They are the ones who have helped me the most and really let me know what’s going on at this school. Students out there – if you want to get to know a campus administrator better, you have to reach out! It’s a two way street. I know there are some people out there who set some very strict boundaries and won’t talk about anything personal unless it’s a work-related issue, but most of us do open up a bit.

Have you ever had to deal with this before? How do you handle students that accuse you of favoring one group over theirs?

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2013 Goal Updates – March

The downfall of me planning most of my posts ahead of time is that I start writing my “Goal Updates” post mid-month but really can’t do much since I can’t tell you all about things that haven’t yet. Then I forget about it until…oh…the day I intended on posting it. Sigh.

Be More Organized

Well, nothing says “We like you and want to keep you” quite like giving you a ton more responsibility, right? After spring break, I returned to this HUGE stack of mail in my inbox with all these new tasks that are assigned to me. I spent a week staring at the papers before deciding that I needed to come up with a system for them first. So far, so good.

I did a major spring cleaning of my bathroom. I know earlier this year I completely reorganized it, but for this cleaning I actually scrubbed the tub, sink, and toilet, I mopped the floor, shook out the rug…it’s all nice and shiny in there now!

I may very soon have a major change in my living arrangements (and that’s all I’ll say about it for now!) but because of that I am planning some rearranging. Unfortunately I think that might require taking some furniture apart because I’m pretty sure it won’t fit through my door.

Read More

I went on a trip earlier this month and downloaded a TON of samples on my Nook. I get a little mad when a sample has only 17 pages…with most of them being acknowledgements, chapter listings, etc. I did actually buy one of the books – “Sorority Sisters” by Claudia Welch. I enjoyed reading it and I think it’s something any female reader with a close group of friends can understand…not just those in a sorority. The one thing that stinks is books are EXPENSIVE. I think I’m either going to have to go back to Goodwill to look for books or try and find a library.

Schedule More Me Time

You know you’re getting to a point where your work life and your personal life are so entwined that you’re inviting your friends to college events for a night out. I have found other things to keep me busy in my new city, but work has been so busy with late night events that I haven’t really had much me time…good thing I enjoy work! I also seem to finally have a group of friends. Some have “normal” 9 to 5 jobs, others have crazy retail hours, and then there’s me. Ha!

Keep in Touch

This month has been soooo busy! I’ve traveled twice this month and I have one more trip coming up this weekend. Even though I didn’t travel to see my friends, I wound up being in touch with them more than a normal month because they’d comment on my Facebook pictures and we’d wind up chatting all night about where I was and what I was doing. I also did get to see my Big which was wonderful. She hasn’t visited me in my new city yet so hopefully we will find time for that in the next few months. It’s difficult because I don’t plan my weekends until I know what weekends I’m on call.

Be a Grown Up

I rented a car for the second time in my life. That seems like a grown up thing to do. I also found all the documents in order to do my taxes, but I still haven’t done them. Of course, that’s all negated by the fact I was pouty about not day drinking on St. Paddy’s. Oops.


In April, I plan on finishing a book that I haven’t read in forever and finishing a major non-work related project. Woo!

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