Check List; Its Never too Early to Start Preparing for the Next
By Tim Johnson,
Director of Housing & Residence Life
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey- Newark
If you are reading this article, I am hoping that means that you have
either been recently selected to be a new or returning Resident Assistant
or some similar position in the Residence Life Program at your institution.
As you may already know, its never too early to start planning for
next year. This checklist may assist you with some ideas of things that
you might do over the Summer break to prepare for being a Resident Assistant
- Many residence halls develop a theme for their opening or for the
whole year. Be sure you know what next years theme for your building
is, and write it down. Themes are helpful for putting on a coordinated
welcome for students during fall move-in. They can be used to create
floor bulletin boards as well as door decorations.
Those crazy coordinated name tags on the doors go a long way
towards getting folks to know one another early on and beginning the
building of community. Unfortunately during fall training, you do not
always have the time to put them together as well as you would like
to. So, get a head start, and begin making them at home during the summer.
Try to come up with something that is easy to just add a name to, and
remember to make extras, because we all know there are last minute changes.
Boards Just like the Door Decorations, these are things you
can prepare over the summer. If you dont know the measurements
of the bulletin boards on your floor, find them out! Keep in mind that
the bulletin board is your means to communicate current information
about campus events and opportunities to your residents. Just like everything
else, it is a tool to help you build community on your floor. If it
is attractive and entertaining, your residents will use it more.
Board It is a good idea to create your own message board
for your own door so that your residents will be able to leave you messages
when you are out and you will be able to leave them some sense of where
you are and when you will return. There are lots of creative ways to
do this. One of the best is to have some type of paper wheel or pointer
that you can move to communicate messages like: "At Class",
"Sleeping", "Home, Come In", etc
Confirm that your supervisor has all of your summer contact information.
There are lots of things that happen over the summer that your supervisor
may need to communicate to you. Get the phone number of your supervisor
as well, in case you need to contact them. Im sure that they would
appreciate hearing from you at least once over the summer. Send us post
cards. We love to get postcards!
the date and time you are due back for training
It may seem like a long way off right now, but it will sneak
up on you so make sure you mark your calendar for when you are due back
for training. Being on time for training is very important and in many
cases if you are late, your position might be in jeopardy.
any information you receive from your supervisor as soon as it arrives
Many times this information is time sensitive and requires some
type of response. If you are going to be away from the address where
your summer mail is being sent for a period of time, be sure there is
someone that is checking your mail regularly that has a way to communicate
with you wherever you are.
your welcome back program and your first floor meeting - Take the
time over the summer to begin to plan for your first program in the
fall. This will give you a good headstart and allow you to bring extra
items that you might want to acquire over the summer for your program.
It is also a good idea to begin to put together an outline of what you
might cover at your first floor meeting.
the policies and procedures and campus resources
Remember that you are a primary resource for your residents and
you are expected to learn and know campus polices and procedures as
well as general campus resources. Call your supervisor and ask them
to send you this information at home, so you can read and study about
your individual campus resources. You can also surf your own campuses
web pages to find out lots of information and become more aware of campus
resources. This will also give you a good headstart on all those campus
resource scavenger hunts and policy trivia games that we love to pull
on you during training.
Safe and Have a Fun Summer
This is the most important item on the list. You will be working
very hard from the moment you return in the fall, so take time to relax
a little over the summer and while you are doing so, stay safe. We want
to see all of you back in the fall.
About the Author
is one of the founding members of Reslife.Net. Tim has served as the Eastern
District Representative to the ACUHO-I Board, and he is also a Past President
of MACUHO. He has served as a Graduate RA, Resident Director, Area Coordinator,
Assistant Director of Housing, and is now a Director of Housing &