You Should Apply to be an RA
I’m an RA.
Nice and subtle of me, sneaking that in, wasn’t it? That little fact is kind of important for this blog, which is all about the RA position. I get a lot of questions from people interested in (and nervous for!) applying for RA, so if you’re one of those people, or someone who’s curious about it, or someone who just likes blogs, then carry on, my wayward reader.
Being an RA is cool. I quite enjoy it. It gives me the chance to meet and interact with girls I may not have gotten to know otherwise. It lets me create events that I can get excited about and be part of an awesome community of other RAs. Like I said, being an RA is cool. But I never really expected to be one. When I applied two years ago, I did so with a vague hope of being selected, but not any real expectation. Most RAs are a lot more outgoing than I am. I don’t have the typical “RA personality.” Plus, I’ve never really had any major leadership roles before. The Student Life Office wound up selecting me among the year’s RAs, though, and of course I was excited, but also very nervous. Was I going to be good enough? Did they only hire me because they thought I was somehow different than I actually am? Nope. Fast forward to today and I am still an RA. They did mean to hire me as I am. Which brings me to my first point:
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to RAs. Certain RAs are assigned to certain halls for a reason. It isn’t random, and no RA will be a carbon-copy of another. Each hall is different, therefore each RA is different too. It’s ok if you aren’t the most outgoing person in the world, or if you aren’t 100% confident in your leadership ability. There might be a hall that needs you, bringing me to point two:
Being an RA is less about what you do than it is about who you are. There are duties, sure. RAs go on rounds certain weekends. We attend weekly meetings. We enforce quiet hours, visiting hours, and all that fun stuff. We organize hall events and check smoke alarms. There are certainly things to get done. But that’s not the main point. The main point is getting to know people, listening to them, and caring about them. It’s about being patient, kind, relatable, available, and keeping your head during difficult situations. The duties matter less than the attitude. We are here to serve our residents, and we don’t do that just by enforcing rules. We do it by loving and caring about the people.
Practically speaking, that means talking to your residents when you see them around campus. It means sending a text saying, “How are you doing?” to a resident you haven’t seen in a while, setting up a hall event once a month or so, and answering the knock on your door and praying with a resident who is going through a tough time.
If you’re considering applying for the RA position, kudos to you. I’m not going to lie, it can be a hard job. You never know what situations might come up, and the event planning, meeting-running, and checking in on residents can sometimes be draining and difficult to balance on top of school, extracurriculars, and maybe even a part-time job. But being an RA is also rewarding. Like I mentioned earlier, being an RA makes you part of a unique community with the other RAs. It gives you some leadership experience and lets you get to know some pretty amazing residents.
So is the job sometimes hard? Yes. Will you make mistakes if you become an RA? Absolutely. I made a ton of mistakes in my first year, and I’m still making some now. But should that stop you from applying? No way! Being an RA is about serving others, and if that’s something you want to do, then by all means apply. It’s nothing to be scared of. You don’t need to worry about fitting into some imaginary RA mold. Be yourself. There might be a hall that really needs someone like you.