What Does It Take To Be an RA at NYU?

The Residential Assistant (RA) curates programs for their floor, acts as a resource for students, provides support when needed, and fosters a special, tight-knit community. They also dorm for free (kind of). No wonder it’s a competitive, sought after, on-campus position.

Before delving into the long drawn process for becoming an RA, it’s important to be aware of some of the expectations.

Starting from the basics, an RA must be driven to build a community between their residents and show good personal character, such as being flexible and being able to use good judgment. There are course load and GPA requirements for RAs as well, as outlined in the Position Description.

Some other necessary requirements are that RAs are expected to allot 20 hours per week to this role. As it proves to be very demanding, RAs must get approval from the RHAD or RHD before starting another job, internship or time intensive commitment. This could lead to the tough decision of choosing to be an RA or pursuing other interests. But this shouldn't discourage you! A lot of RAs in the past have successfully balanced their paraprofessional role with other opportunities. Moreover, an RA has to attend a weekly 2 hour long meeting and might even have to work breaks, unless they can switch around their schedules with one of their team members.

One of the biggest perks to being an RA is the compensation: housing and the meal plan. Although neither of these are technically ‘free,’ as an RA has to commit their time and invest in the role, it’s still an incredible offer. NYU housing prices as well as meal plans have only increased over the past years, so there’s the possibility to save almost $20,000! As a result of this, it’s totally worth it for students to dedicate their time and effort towards the position.

Other responsibilities RAs must fulfill are centered around administrative work, community development, crisis response, and policy enforcement. They must also be an advocate for their residents, ensuring that their concerns are addressed. RAs need to facilitate conflicts that may inevitably rise, act sensibly in high pressure situations and serve as not only a role model but also someone a resident could turn to for any reason.

It’s natural for someone to not get along with their RA, but the important thing to note is that they should always be there for students. Sometimes it can be easier to talk about issues or problems with an RA a resident is distant to, because they’ll have an objective perspective. It can also be challenging to get to know more than 40 students on the floor, so it would be an incredible feat for an RA to be close to every single one of their residents.

However, when talking to past RAs, almost all have said that the role has benefited them immensely. Moreover, as RAs spend so much time with one another, they often develop valuable friendships and relationships. They usually have their own little RA family.

But the steps to getting to that point can be a long and challenging one. There’s an online application that must be filled out. It asks for the applicant’s preferences, such as whether they’d want to be a part of a FYRE (first year residential experience) hall or an upperclassman one. There are questions regarding special communities or exploration floors/themes the applicant may be interested in and why they would be a good fit for those groups. The application also requires a reflective, introspective statement regarding the impact a candidate will have on their community as an RA and how this position will help their personal growth. Two recommendations are also needed to complete the application. Students often reach out to their RAs or other RAs they know, academic advisors, RHADs, and anyone else that can provide insight into the candidate’s character.

Once the application is complete, there are three rounds of interviews. The first is a 4 hour group interview, the second is a 30 minute individual interview and the last one is another 4 hour group interview. The interviews often assess a student’s problem solving and teamwork skills, as they’re integral to the RA role. Interviewers also want to see whether candidates speak up and voice their opinions, since they will have to speak up and advocate for their residents. Most importantly, residential hall staff want to see whether the applicant is aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, aspirations with regards to the position and exactly why they want to be an RA.

CAS sophomore Alejandra Arevalo mentions that the interview “was an intense process.” Nonetheless, she states: “it was an enriching experience because I got to know different people with different backgrounds and we all got the opportunity to share our experiences living on campus and as members of NYU.” Thus although the interview process may seem intimidating, it’s certainly doable and an opportunity for candidates to get to know others and themselves.

Apply here! Applications for Spring RALI are due December 15th.

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