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3. A Resident AssistantA common cause of stress for freshmen (and, to some degree, any student who lives on campus) is housing. Whether you have the best roommate or the worst roommate, a semi-private or shared bathroom, a resident assistant (RA) is your greatest resource. They are trustworthy enough that your institution allows them to wield authority, and they are invested in your personal journey. Not every resident assistant will be your best friend, but familiarizing yourself with their schedule, as well as their academic and extracurricular interests, can help you immensely. If something is wrong and you do not know whom to contact, your RA very quickly becomes a lifeline. Building a network of resources during your first year is also about recognizing what is necessary for your success. If you have a health concern, introduce yourself at the health center for an initial check-in. If you have a difficult time with essay assignments, schedule appointments with the writing center to orient yourself to their services. College campuses are designed to be supportive, but no one knows how to help you unless you tell them. It is important to reach out so you can ensure your own success and determine what kinds of services are available.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.