Moving to college is most students’ first time living away from their parents. Of course this does not mean they are free from authority figures. Instead, they have surrogate parents: Resident Advisors (RAs). Unlike many parents, an RA’s affection is easy to win. Once you have it, it can prove very valuable.
An important thing to remember is that RAs do not want to get people on their floor into trouble, especially not at the beginning of the quarter. Eventually, if a relationship has soured between certain floor members and an RA, he or she may enjoy busting the troublesome group. But at the beginning, no RA wants to dislike people on their floor; they are not looking to create problems for themselves.
Take advantage of that. RAs will want to assume you are not going to give them any problems in the early weeks of the year, so reassure them. The easiest way to get yourself liked by your RA is the same as with any person: Be cheerful and polite. Saying, “Hi, how are you?” when you pass them will go a long way in getting them to assume you are not a troublemaker.
Another big thing you can do is to be social. It is a major goal of the Residence Life program for RAs to help facilitate social activity. The easiest way to alleviate any worry your RA has that you will be one of those anti-social kids is to keep your door open. Use a brick, a real doorstop, laundry detergent, a bent fork—whatever you want to prop that door open. The combination of not being a recluse and seeming pleasant to random passersby will combine to make you seem like a problem-free resident.
After that, the best thing to do is to refrain from things that will aggravate them. First and foremost, do not engage in a rebellious pissing contest. True, your RA will only be a year or two older than you. That does not mean they do not have any authority and it does not mean you have to try and assert yourself over them. While they are reading their required orientation material, it may be easy to slip in some snarky sarcasm and undermine them but: Guess what? That won’t help you when you come back to the floor at two in the morning laughing and yelling.
Remember, winning an RA’s affection is easy—and useful! Sure, you could brownnose by offering to help them with decorations or attend all their voluntary events, but it is plenty easy to earn their favor without doing any work at all. Stay polite, be outgoing, and do not give them a reason to hate you.