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So You Want to Be an RA

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rowan chapter.

Becoming a Resident Assistant at your college can appear very appealing to applicants as the position offers several benefits. These benefits include “free” housing, meal plan, and on top of this you still receive a stipend. However, these perks do not come at a small cost. Resident Assistants are some of the hardest working student leaders on campus. Resident Assistants must oversee their assigned hall, facilitate community meetings, mediate roommate issues throughout the semester. And all of these things pile on top of the other responsibilities that an RA has, like classes and clubs. 

Becoming a Resident Assistant may appear stressful and overwhelming at first, but it is a very rewarding position. The interactions and relationships that you form with residents as an RA are worthwhile. Below are a few more things you should know about becoming a Resident Assistant before you decide to apply.

It’s a very sought after position

But don’t let this discourage you! Several students apply to become a Resident Assistant (as it is the best job on campus!). This means that the hiring process can become very competitive, but you should still apply. The housing office looks for diversity when filling the RA position, as a result they hire people with different levels of experience, majors, and personalities. When applying, just remain confident in yourself and your application — you will do great!


Your RA staff is one of the best teams you’ll ever work on

Having a support system is essential to anyone who takes on the RA position. Your staff is made up of a group of people who are so different from you, but are all going through the same circumstances. It really allows you to grow closer together as a group. In times of worry or stress, I know that I can turn to anyone on my staff for assistance. They are also there to act as a group of collaborators, whether it’s coming up with a particular program that you would like to hold together or if you need advice on how to handle a particular situation that you are having with your residents. Being on a staff such as this will teach you how to be a member of a team, which is a skill essential to any job one may hold in the future.


Time commitment is a big aspect from the beginning 

Before applying to become an RA, it’s important that you evaluate your schedule and the commitments you already have such as clubs, jobs, and classes. Then, decide if you are able to dedicate a lot of time to the RA position. Then, multiply the time you have dedicated by 10 because you need a lot of time dedicated to this job right from the start. Once you’re hired, you have to attend a summer Resident Assistant training. This means moving back to campus before everyone else, ensuring the buildings are perfect for when students arrive, learning the skills you will need to become the best RA that you can, and, most importantly, learning how to make this year the best one for students.

Not all residents are the same

Similarly to how your RA staff is made up of a diverse group of people, your residence hall is as well. This means that not all residents will act the same. Some residents are more shy than others and may not immediately come to you if they’re having a problem. Some residents are more outgoing and will easily attend all of your programs — they might even grab lunch with you. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad RA because you’re not best friends with everyone on your floor; this simply means that you have to accommodate your behaviors for certain residents.

You’re an RA even when you’re not on duty

As a RA, it’s important that you must uphold the integrity of the position. This means being a RA even when you’re not on duty or when you think no one is watching. As a student leader, you are bound to get recognized on campus whether that be at a party, in the student center, or the library. Essentially, this means that one must behave as a student leader at all times.

Being on duty only sucks if you let it

Resident Assistants are required to be on duty a few times each month. While on duty, RA’s must conduct rounds of their building, remain in the office for a certain time, and most importantly hold the duty phone. The duty phone is how students get in contact with the RA on duty when they are in need of assistance. Whenever the duty phone rings, the RA must answer it, whether it’s 9 o’clock at night or 5 am in the morning. However, duty is only a bad experience if you make it one. Being on duty can be a time to bond with a member of your staff who you usually don’t see outside of hall meetings. You can also use this time to catch up or get ahead on some homework. Overall, duty is really important because during this time you are insuring the health and well-being of your community, which is pretty damn cool. 

You will benefit from this job in ways you would have never known possible

Students who apply for the RA position often talk about the benefits when they apply. Sure, free food and housing are great, but they shouldn’t be the reason you take the job. The relationships that you will make  with your residents are the truly the best thing about being a RA, benefits included. Whenever I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed about anything, I just simply think of why I’m doing this in the first place and I feel better. Being a Resident Assistant has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done and it has changed me so much, yet it has also been one of the best things I have ever done and I wouldn’t change one second of it.