In college, when you live in the dorms, you will have an RA on your floor. RA means “Resident Adviser” and this person is like your dorm “mom” or “dad” on the floor. They are your go-to person for any questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to ask your RA for any sort of help because they went through a lot of competition to get their job and so they are very happy to be your RA!
The free rent and food
RA’s live in the dorm for free and have a free meal plan, so it’s a really sweet gig if you can get it. This can save you a major expense in college! Money aside, there are many other great reasons to become an RA.
The initial training
RA’s go through SO MUCH training for their jobs. Before being loosed on innocent residents, RA’s do many training courses with all of the other RA’s on campus. These classes can include: CPR and First Aid, Drug Use and Abuse Awareness, Alcohol Use and Abuse Awareness, Diversity Training (about ethnic groups, races, and cultures), Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Disorders Awareness, Disabilities Support Training, and Conflict Resolution, among others. This training is so valuable immediately and for the rest of your life. The training alone makes the job worth it.
The mediation training
Once selected, RA’s then go through lots of training with the team in their building or cluster of buildings. These trainings often focus on conflict resolution and mediation, which is wildly valuable in the future when you have roommates and also on any job you will ever have. Mediation is a terrific skill, where you try to get two parties to reach an understanding. RA’s use this skill a lot when roommates try to iron out ground rules for dwelling happily together.
The people skills
As an RA it’s your job to get people to mingle and to try new things. You plan educational and social events for your floor and you try to make everyone feel included and valued. These people skills (for which you will, of course, receive training) will greatly assist you in college, grad school, career and life. You can learn to see from others’ points of view, to be understanding, and the power of being inclusive. You also have to learn to be comfortable with being in a role of authority, like when your residents have pet rabbits hidden in their closets or like to listen to music so loud that it is clearly heard in the next building. You are the person who has to confront and handle that. It’s a great skill to develop!
The planning skills
RA’s plan social and educational events for their floors and this teaches you to think about logistics and clear communication. You’ll have a lot of details to manage, so you learn what goes behind any event and also the power of marketing. Very valuable lessons!
RA’s work with their team and the residents to set and achieve goals. This teaches you both how to work with strong people and how to work with diverse groups. Some of your residents will be really active and interested in activities, and some will care less, but it is your task to try to engage them all and build a team. It’s a great challenge and you get to work with other smart, committed, spirited RA’s to do your best. What could be better?
Being an RA is a difficult job to get, so start your application very early and be sure to do some practice interviews with your RA and any other RA you can find. They had to get past these interviews themselves, so they are the best person to get advice from. The competition for these great jobs is very stiff, so be on your A-game!