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5 Keys to Be a Successful RA in College (161 hits)

Aside from being a fantastic way to defray living expenses while in college, the experience of being a resident assistant (RA) will provide a wonderful way to develop your leadership skills and an opportunity to give back to your college community. While this job can be taxing at times, with these helpful tips you will have no problem being a successful RA in college while staying on top of your student responsibilities.

Focus on Community-Building

The best way to make being an RA feel like less of a job is to make friends with your residents. Make sure to start early. Introduce yourselves to your residents on their move-in day and be visible throughout the first couple of weeks throughout the semester. Establish an open-door policy and invite others in your hall to do the same in order to create a welcoming community environment.

Avoid Favoritism

During training, you will probably be advised on how to handle troublesome residents. You might not always agree with the rules, and sometimes it will be tempting to let some rule-breaking slide. However, it is important to remember that you will be held responsible should things escalate. So make sure to abide by the rules and subject all of your residents to them, without exceptions. Make sure your roommates and friends know when you are wearing an RA hat and a friend hat. Making exemptions for them that you wonít to another student can cost you your job or respect with other students.

Set Boundaries

Sometimes being an RA feels like an all-consuming job, as you practically live in your workplace. To avoid burn out, it is important to establish the limitations of your position. While you will be trained to be a first responder, you are not a counselor or a police officer. So unless you are actually on-call, donít feel like you have to be available to your residents 24/7. Feel free to step back and provide them with other resources on campus that can help them in the case of an emergency. If someone opens up to you and you think they need help you can tell them ďIím so sorry youíre going through this. We have a great counselors on campus that I think can really helpĒ and give them a referral. Sometimes destigmatizing doctors or mental health is as much as you can do for someone in need.


Regardless of how strict you are with setting boundaries, sometimes the pressures of being both, an RA and a college student will seem overwhelming. Learning to delegate menial tasks will help you focus on whatís important. You are a bridge between the needs of the students at the dorms and the institution. Make sure that you have the needs of the University when you work with students, and you have the needs of your students when you talk to administration. You are the eyes on the ground floor. If there are any needs your building has itís up to you to delegate them to administration to implement the extra help. This is especially true at the end of semester. Hire a cleaning service to clean rooms that fail inspection or garbage disposal services so your skip bins donít overflow in between semester. In order to simplify your to-do list and free it up to study or attend to your RA obligation you need to learn a balance between your responsibilities and asking for outside help.
Posted By: Kara Masterson
Tuesday, May 14th 2019 at 4:18PM
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