So, You Want to be an RA?

Spring semester has started, which means the recruitment for new Resident Advisors or RAs for the next academic year has also begun. It can be a really exciting or scary time! If you’re a freshman, it can be your first on-campus job. Or you could be an upperclassman that has applied to be an RA for the 3rd time. In case you may not know, I’ve been an RA for the past three years, which is 6 semesters! At my school, we have the opportunity to be involved with the recruitment process and actually assist in interviewing candidates. I can spot when someone is truly passionate about being an RA and who wants to make a difference, versus someone who just wants free housing. Although there are obvious perks, here are some things to consider before you apply to become an RA.

1. Be involved on campus

Becoming involved on campus truly changed my whole outlook of my school and college experience. I went from perceiving college as just a place to earn a degree to a place full of self-discovery and opportunities to grow. Whether you want to join a student organization or find a part-time job on campus, you are cultivating a sense of community on your campus. Residence Hall Directors, aka your future supervisors, are looking for people that make lasting connections on campus. They want to know that you value building a community and feel pride for your school. You can’t help students enjoy campus life, if you aren’t even involved yourself!

  • Attend your school’s club fair
  • Join a club you’re passionate about
  • Apply for on-campus jobs, like in the library or working in the student housing office (make connections!)
  • Find volunteering opportunities

2. Grow your leadership skills

Developing your leadership skills will not only help you become an RA, but will help you in the future with your career. When I was in high school, I was always more of a follower than a leader. Once I came to college, I wanted to be better at communicating and leading. So, I started volunteering more to be the team leader in group projects or gaining confidence to speak in front of my class. You must actively seek out opportunities to grow your leadership skills. Run for an officer position in a student organization, attend leadership workshops, or lead your group project.

  • Register for leadership development programs your school may offer
  • Attend leadership workshops
  • Lead your group project
  • Enroll in a communications class to improve your skills
  • Be proactive in finding opportunities to be a leader

3. Have passion for student success

There are statistics that suggest that students who live on campus have higher GPA’s and faster rates of graduation than commuter students. As a Resident Advisor, one of your main responsibilities is to help students succeed and lead them to resources. Reflect on why you enjoyed living on campus and how having better access to resources has helped you succeed. You should also reflect on why you chose to attend your school and what your experiences have been like.

  • What aspects of living on campus at your school do you really enjoy?
  • How has living on campus shaped your college experience?
  • Is there a resource on campus you found yourself coming back to?
  • What was one of your favorite events you attended? Why?

4. Bring solutions to problems

If you’re the type of person who has difficulty brainstorming solutions for a problem, being an RA may not be for you. Residents ask about a variety of things, at any time of the day, and even questions that make you say “who would think of that?” A good RA would do their own research about a certain problem, such as asking the right people or finding more information online, before approaching the resident with all the solutions they’ve found. You have to be willing to go extra lengths to help students succeed. You also don’t want to make decisions for them, but give them the tools necessary to help them with their situations.

  • Think about a time you had a difficult problem. How did you solve it or what was the outcome? (***probably an RA interview question)
  • What was a time you went above and beyond to accomplish an objective? (***probably another interview question)

Being an RA is such a rewarding experience and one of the most prestigious titles you can have in college, in my opinion. Recently, at internship interviews, the interviewer was impressed with my experience and understood that I was a leader, accountable, and was a good fit for the position. This year we have over 350 applicants, and only about 30 spots. The competition is tough, but I hope this gave you some insight into the qualities of an RA.

Until next time,


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