What Does an RA Do in College?

A resident assistant (RA) holds a long list of responsibilities in the residential halls of your college. RAs are also students at the college but are usually in the later years of the undergraduate degree or they are graduate students. Resident assistants are there to enforce school policies in the living spaces, put together social gatherings, and help mediate any issues between residents in the dorm.

RAs are the voices of both students and the college administration. They work hard to be an advocate for students and the college so on-campus living goes smoothly. Many college students want to live on campus because of how fun it can be and that is all thanks to resident assistants. Student housing can be a lot of fun for both residents and resident assistants. An RA can make or break your dorm life experience so becoming one is a huge responsibility.

These responsibilities include the following:

  • Organizing social gatherings for residents
  • Enforcing school rules and policies in the resident halls
  • Ensuring maintenance requests are completed
  • Holding floor meetings with college students
  • Helping students with move-in and move-out requirements
  • Resolving conflicts between students in the resident halls
  • Meeting with school administrators and leaders
  • Setting up meetings with fellow RAs and Resident Directors
  • Checking students’ rooms to make sure they’re following the school policies
  • Building a campus life community for all students
  • Doing administrative tasks around the student living buildings
  • Building an inclusive community for students for a home away from home feeling

Being an RA is a full-time job and requires a lot from students, but it is very rewarding overall. You’ll meet so many different people and get to network and live in close proximity to some great minds. If you’re interested in this role but aren’t sure how to become an RA in college… you’ve come to the right place. Learning what an RA does in college will help you understand if it’s the right job for you.

Is Becoming an RA Right for You?

Not every student is the right fit for an RA position in college and that is okay. If you’re interested in becoming an RA, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong foundation in the qualities that make up a good RA. Being a resident assistant is more than just being in charge of the students in your residence hall which is why not everyone is a good fit.

A resident assistant should be kind, understanding, unbiased, and able to have difficult conversations. Unfortunately, being an RA isn’t all fun and games so if you aren’t able to be confrontational and respectful at the same time, this may not be the right fit for you. An RA is like an all-in-one type of role, so you hold a lot of responsibility. You have to put together social events, create a safe and fun environment for all students in your hall, be a listening ear for everyone, and more.

Just in it for the Benefits?

If you’re looking to become an RA for the benefits of free housing, the roles may be too much for you to take on. Being an RA is an actual job despite what most students think. Balancing RA responsibilities and duties with your schoolwork can be difficult so you need to be super organized. You also have to come to terms with the fact that students in your resident hall may not like you as an RA because of the role you have to uphold.

Though it sounds cheesy, it’s not the best feeling when people you’re living in close quarters with do not like you. Overall, being an RA is not for the faint of heart. You need to have thick skin but still show kindness to the students you are responsible for. If you’re up for it and the job requirements aren’t too overwhelming for you, being an RA might be your perfect fit.

How to Become an RA in College

Being an RA in college is a huge responsibility and isn’t always the easiest job around. You have to resolve conflicts and be a liaison between administrators and students, all while being a fun role model for your fellow students.

Some colleges may have different requirements to become an RA but they look similar across the board. To become an RA at your college, you’ll have to meet a minimum cumulative GPA requirement. Additionally, you will have to have a certain number of credit hours taken, have to have lived on campus for at least one year, and be in good standing with Student Affairs Office. If you meet all those requirements, applying to be part of the RA staff is your next step.

Even if you meet all the requirements your college has to be a resident assistant, the application and interview process can be intense.

The Process:

Many students want to be an RA while in college because you get free housing and a meal plan so it’s super competitive. Getting involved with student organizations on campus can help you stand out from other applicants. It shows that you care about your college’s student body and community.

Once you are selected as an RA for your college and become staff, you’ll attend RA training that teaches you everything you need to know. You’ll learn about community development, student safety, administrative tasks, and conflict resolution. A resident assistant is an important role that is fulfilling and fun for many college students. If you think you’re the right fit, apply to become one at your school!

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