By Jessica Lyons
What the Position Entails
As an RA, one of the main things you'll have to do is be a resource for residents in need of assistance or information. You could also be responsible for building a sense of community by holding events or programs for your residents and town hall meetings to discuss problems or concerns. You'll need to keep your residents informed about all of the rules of the dorm and will be responsible for making sure these rules are being followed. In addition to the duties directly related to your residents, you'll also have to interact with administrators, attend meetings and fill out related paperwork or reports.
Probably one of the biggest reasons students decide to become RAs is because of the free room and board they'll receive as an incentive. For a student trying to make his or her college years as affordable as possible, saving on living costs can be a huge benefit. Being an RA also gives a student the chance to meet more people on his or her college campus, including students and administrators. The position also gives students a chance to further develop their own leadership skills, which could help them as they begin their job searches.
A Position That's Not Right For Everyone
As enticing as becoming an RA might sound, not every student can handle this position. First of all, you need to be a very patient person to be an RA. There's a good chance that students will call you or knock on your door all times of the day, which less patient people might get frustrated with very quickly. As an RA, you need to handle each resident inquiry in a calm and pleasant manner no matter how many times you've been interrupted that day or how silly the reason might seem.
It's also important for a potential RA to be a people person. You're going to need to interact with a lot of different people, so if you prefer to be a loner you most likely will not enjoy being an RA. On the other hand, if you're always excited to meet new people and get to know them, you might excel at being an RA and love the experience.
You will need good time management and must have enough free time to actually be able to complete your RA responsibilities. If you have a very demanding degree program that barely leaves you with any free time as it is, being an RA could be a nearly impossible task since either your coursework would end up suffering or you wouldn't be as available to your residents as you should be. Once you determine that you do have enough time to be an RA, you will need to manage your time wisely and create a schedule that gives you plenty of time to get everything done. If you stay on top of all your schoolwork it will make it easier to be the accessible RA that your residents need.
Being a creative person is another thing that could be beneficial as an RA. You'll need to come up with events that meet the needs of a variety of people, are interesting to college students and help build a sense of community among your residents. Knowing how to think creatively will help you be successful at this.
Being a teacher's assistant can also require some special qualities. Check out these tips for being a great TA.