RA On Duty: A Day in the Life of a Resident Assistant

Let’s get real, being a resident assistant is not for the faint of heart. Sure, it comes with its perks like free room and board, but it’s not for everyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends tell me they couldn't imagine having my job. Still, not everyone seems to know what all is a part of the job; so, I thought I’d give all you lovely HerCampus DU readers a taste of what it’s like. Here is a day in the life of an RA, as told by my internal monologue.

3:30 AM

Good morning, sunshine! Time to get up bright and early. I know it’s early enough that your eyes are crazy dry, your bed is softer than angel wings, and you don’t feel like a living human being; but you need to get moving, that front desk isn’t going to manage itself.

5:00 AM

Hey, look, students are awake. Why are they awake? They’ve been here since before your shift started at 4 AM, and they’re still here. Are they okay? Oh, here comes that one athlete you had to write up last night for underage drinking heading off to practice. That hangover has got to suck.

8:00 AM

Your shift is finally over, hooray! Now, time to sneak up to the room without getting caught. Okay, up the stairs, nice! Okay, through the hallway. Round that corner, fumble with your keys because you’re a zombie. Door: unlocked. Nice! Wait, you hear someone say your name. Ughhhhh. A bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman is behind you with way too much energy for 8 AM. They’ve come to inform you that all the showers are clogged again and someone stole the lounge furniture. Fabulous. No nap today.

9:30 AM

The lounge furniture have been returned and maintenance is on their way to de-clog the showers. Time to throw your hair in a messy bun, slap on some mascara, and dash off to your first class.


You’ve survived your first class thanks to the power of lattes and pinching yourself to stay awake. Time to take a lunch break. By lunch break, I mean have a quesadillas next to you while you design that bulletin board. You type away finding fun fonts and images. You don’t have time to go home and put it together; that’ll have to come later.

4:00 PM

You’re done with classes for the day and have just recorded the following in your bullet journal:

  • Finish bulletin board
  • Essay due at midnight!
  • Presentation tomorrow
  • Duty tonight
  • Staff meeting — 7:30 PM
  • Don’t forget to check on the showers!

6:00 PM

You’re having dinner with your friends- a much needed wind-down. You’re not quite ready to head back to your hall. You’re back on your laptop, switching between your essay tab and your bulletin board planning tab.

7:00 PM

You walk into the mailroom, and it looks like the person on package shift is about to have a breakdown. You ask if they need help and start organizing their mountain of cardboard. It’s what anyone would do. You hear a resident at the front desk berating the desk attendant because their Amazon prime shipment was supposed to arrive an hour ago, and how dare we not have it ready right now.

8:00 PM

At the staff meeting, discussing things with your staff. They’re the best. While planning building-wide socials together, you swap stories. Someone ripped the water fountain off the wall on that floor. They found vomit in the elevator. The paramedics had to be called four times last Saturday. Routine stuff.

10:00 PM

Doing duty rounds, walking through all twenty floors of the building to make sure everyone is alive and well. You had to bust someone for smoking weed, and those residents yelled at you for ruining their night. Really y’all? On a Tuesday? Of course, you’re the enemy here. They give you dirty looks when campus security shows up. They toss a fake ID at you. This baby-faced kid is not 25. Later, you write up an incident report with your duty partner and edit each other’s writing skills. While there, you print out your bulletin board supplies and arm yourself with a glue stick and a pair of scissors.

11:00 PM

Your bulletin is done, and it’s gorgeous! Time to get back to that essay. Five minutes in, a knock at the door. A resident is bored and annoyed with their roommate. Awesome. They also mention how stressed out they are about school. You suggest they go get some studying done in the common area. They don’t see how that could be helpful. The conversation goes on for a while; you try to listen, but you’re feeling yourself get sleepy from being up since 3:30 in the morning. You feel like a bad RA for not being able to help.

12:00 AM

You managed to submit your paper at the last minute. Bedtime.

1:15 AM

You receive a call. Someone got into the custodial closet on one of the floors and spread powdered soup all over the top floor. You call campus security and go to investigate. Your duty partner is waiting. It’s going to be a long night.

2:45 AM

You slink your way back onto your floor. On your way to your room you knock on a door and ask the residents to please stop bumping bass at 3 AM. You go a little further and see your bulletin board has been ripped from the wall– all those posters you made and put up are in shreds on the floor. You pick up the pieces and toss them in the recycling bin and decide to just go to bed. It’s all part of the job.

Next time an RA does something to annoy you, or “ruins your night," try to think about what they’ve had to deal with. I guarantee you, we’re not out to get you, we’re just trying to get through the day.