Who is this RA that everyone keeps talking about? What does RA even me? Why is it so important for me to know my RA?
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh I think she means that person who was there on Move-In day,” then you definitely need to continue reading this. Even if the RA’s schedule is posted on the board above your desk, I promise you’ll also discover some bit of “take-away” from this article.
When I asked a random sample of students “Why is it important to know your RA?” I received an even distribution of responses from incoming students and upperclassmen. Yet, there were common misconceptions shared by both groups that I hope to dispel. Here are some valuable, under reported benefits I feel are important reasons to get to know your RA.
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What lovely picture of this RA Staff from Fairleigh Dickinson University ❤️ in New Jersey on their move in day! 📦 Way to keep those smiles going! 😊 keep up the good work Knights! Have a great year!! ❤️ Photo Sent in By: Cha @harmony_4 #RA #RALife #Reslife #MoveIn #MoveInDay #FairleighDickinsonUniversity #NewJersey #GoKnights #ResidentAssistant #ResidentAdvisors #RAStaff #Knights
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Who they are
I want to address the role of the Resident Advisor, or more commonly called RA, and the importance of building a positive relationship with this key person during the semester. The RA is a peer who has been given the responsibility to help supervise the residents of the dorm, guide students to make good choices, encourage involvement with other students and the campus community as a whole. In many cases, they are also your first point of contact when you’ve made some “not so great” choices or if you’re having a personal crisis.
They are experienced
What’s important to realize is your RA has already been where you are. They’ve experienced or know someone who has struggled with homesickness, self-confidence, time management and what most people fear the most, the “unknown.” All those activities they have planned can help soften the pangs of loneliness and uncertainty.
They are trained
The RA is trained to assist you in meeting the right people on campus if you need help with academics, or emotional struggles that are too big to solve over a cup of cocoa or Frisbee on the quad. And in the unlikely event you have completely “gone off the rails,” they will likely be the ones who are consoling you or sitting next to you while you make the hardest of all phone calls to home.
Their doors are always open
If you haven’t been engaged with the activities in your dorm, it’s not too late! Take a deep breath, open your door, and commit to saying “hi.” Perhaps you’ll go as far as joining one activity this week or even offering to help organize one of your own. If you really get to know your RA and find that you thoroughly enjoy attending the events they arrange, maybe you’ll even discover that you might want to become an RA in the distant future.
Which could open a door for you
If you do decide you would like to become an RA, it is essential to know that the job holds equal pros and cons, but it is ultimately a rewarding position of leadership with some financial perks. Either way I hope you feel excited about being a part of a community of learning, I hope your dreams include finding ways to challenge yourself and that you reward your accomplishments every day no matter how big or small.
Top image source: doc4net.com
Sharon is finishing her MPH while balancing work and family, and plans on eventually getting her PhD in Psychology. She has two dogs, volunteers at an area shelter, desperately tries to find time to work out at least 4 days per week. Her short term fitness goal is to spend more time at Hot Yoga. She's an advocate for the field of Mental Health and building academic self-efficacy.