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Categorized | Paying For College

Save on College Cost – Become a Resident Adviser (RA)

Do you like people? Do you stay up all hours of the night? Is there a little part of you that likes to be in a position of control? Do you want a job on Campus? Do you communicate well?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, being a Resident Adviser may be just the ticket for you to help cover some of your college expenses.

The Role of a Resident Adviser

RAs have different responsibilities at different college campuses but the common expectation of someone fulfilling this role is that they serve as a role model for fellow students living in their residential communities. Yes, RAs are the enforcers of all the rules put into place by Residential Life, but more importantly, they serve as a resource for their peers and help new students acclimate to campus in a healthy fostering way.

The following represents a brief description of what one college expects of their RAs:

RAs are expected to initiate contact with students on the floor within the first two weeks of classes to begin building rapport. Names of residents should be known by the end of the second week. As the year continues, try to make it a point to see each student at least three times a week so as to learn and know more about them than their names. While contact time with residents may vary by section or floor, this is to be a guideline for use in establishing and gaining knowledge of residents, and to begin the development of community. RAs are expected to promote community within their sections by establishing guidelines, limits, and expectations for cooperative living among residents.

Depending upon which college you attend, the job duties may be different but the description above gives you an idea of what may be expected of you if you decide to become an RA.

The Benefits of Being a Resident Adviser

Colleges and Universities understand the importance of RAs on their campus, so they are usually very quick to treat them fairly when it comes to compensation and benefits.

The following highlights some of the more common benefits associated with being an RA:

  • Free Room – That’s right! Just about every RA program in the nation provides a free room for their Resident Advisers. My experience is that the RA rooms tend to be the larger ones and they also get to have a room all to themselves (which is an amazing luxury all to itself in residence halls!).
  • Monthly Wage – Since an RA’s schedule can vary and is depicted by unscheduled events, it is hard to put an hourly rate on their pay. So, most colleges will just give them a monthly stipend to help supplement the free room benefit.
  • Bookstore Vouchers – Everybody likes free books! It is not uncommon for some colleges to provide a free bookstore voucher to RAs since this is a non-taxable way they can show appreciation.
  • Priority Registration – RAs have successfully lobbied  for this benefit on a number of campuses. Basically, since they are dedicating all their non-academic time to their position, they get benefit of having first pick of their favorite courses.
  • Free Meal Plans – I don’t see this as often but some schools will provide this incentive for returning upper-class RAs. This benefit usually helps to offset the fact that they will be spending another year in the residence halls even though they qualify to move off campus.

The Downside of Being a Resident Adviser

I wish I could say that being a Resident Adviser is the easiest job on campus and that you will never be confronted with “issues”.  The truth of the matter is that RA positions definitely come with their fair share of challenges and I personally think they could be one of the toughest work study jobs on campus.

The following are examples of why some people just don’t like being an RA:

  • No Time For Yourself – If you are in your room or wandering around your floor, you are approachable as an RA since technically you are always “on duty”.
  • Late Hour Commotion – Not so surprising, most events that require an RA to get involved usually happen in the middle of the night.
  • Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Unfortunately, living in close quarters with a group of diverse people can sometimes bring out the worst of the worst when it comes to how students treat each other. Depending on the floor you are assigned to, solving roommate issues may become a full time job.
  • Who is Your Sounding Board? – Students always turns to the RA for a compassionate ear but who is the RA’s sounding board? If you become an RA make sure you quickly identify someone that you can bounce “issues” off of, whether it be a fellow RA, someone from Residential Life, or good old mom and dad.
  • Rules Are For Everyone – You have to enforce the rules for everyone… including your friends. There is no way around it. That is just how it has to be if you are going to survive as an effective RA.

In Summary

RAs are the champions on campuses across the nation. They are the unsung heroes that sometimes get overlooked or under appreciated. However, if you are looking for a great way to reduce the amount of money you have to spend on your college education and you want to have an awesome resume builder experience, you should definitely consider becoming an RA. It may make you tough as nails but that may benefit you in your future career more than you know! 😉

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