Your resident assistant or resident advisor (RA) is one of the first people you’ll meet at college if you live on campus. RAs usually help coordinate the chaos of move-in day and help new students settle into their dorm rooms. They also work to create an inclusive community and help you get to know your new neighbors right away. RAs build rapport with students in their residence halls, lending support whenever anyone needs to talk about a problem. Other times, RAs mediate conflicts between residents before things get worse. RAs also make sure everyone is following the rules set forth by residence life. College is first and foremost an educational environment, and RAs have a responsibility to uphold that mission. If all this sounds enticing, it’s worth exploring whether this role could be the right fit for you in the future—after all, RAs are students too! Let’s take a look at how you can become an RA and some of the benefits to help you decide.
How can I become an RA?
Every college or university has different guidelines for becoming an RA. Typically, you won’t be allowed to apply until sophomore year, so you can use freshman year to gain familiarity with your campus first. There will also be qualifications to meet that may be tied to your academics, such as a minimum GPA requirement. Like any other job, certain skills will boost you to the top of the candidate list. Qualities that will get your application noticed include:
- Communication skills
- Patient listening
- Compassion and empathy
- Strong organization
- Consistent responsibility
- Social event planning experience
If you’re worried about how to handle everything, keep in mind that all RAs undergo extensive training prior to the start of the school year. Your teammates and supervisor will also be there to help if you encounter any particularly difficult situations.
5 benefits of becoming an RA
This part-time school-affiliated job has many perks for students who are looking for an enriching experience without leaving campus. Here are some of the biggest wins.
1. Personal growth
You’ll face various situations as an RA, and some will be entirely new. You may discover talents and abilities you never knew you had by stepping outside your comfort zone and seeing what it’s like to become a respected role model. You won’t get everything right on day one, but you’ll learn about the job and yourself over time.
2. Useful compensation
RAs receive compensation for their on-duty days and daily support within the residence hall. Typically, RAs receive payment in the form of room and board, but the role may sometimes include a stipend as well. Dismissing these costs can significantly lower your bills each semester and reduce your stress levels.
Related: 7 On-Campus Jobs You Really Want
3. Campus community
When you become an RA, you’ll probably get close to your teammates during training as well as foster a tight-knit community within your residence hall. This is a great way to get involved and make a genuine difference on campus. Being a part of the everyday lives of other residents is a recipe for a memorable college experience.
4. Single dorm room
Resident assistants must meet with students privately if there are issues to discuss, so single rooms are the norm for RAs. Having your own personal space mere steps away from your classes is a huge advantage. The responsibilities of college life and RA duties are inevitably easier to manage with the luxury of a dorm room all to yourself.
5. Résumé experience
As a college student, you probably don’t have a lot of work experience yet. Adding an RA role to your résumé can be impactful; it shows you have leadership, teamwork, and organization skills. This kind of accountability will stand out to future employers looking for evidence that they can trust you on their team.
If you’re excited about the possibility of becoming an RA, check out your college’s resident life website to find out more about their program and how to get involved. It’s a big responsibility, but for the right kind of student, it’s a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Not so sure being an RA is the right role for you? Explore other options with our article on Part-Time Jobs and Money-Making Ideas for Students.