Being a Resident Adviser (RA) in college is a very unique experience. Movies tend to depict us as either nerds always looking to get the protagonists in trouble or stoners who couldn't give less of a rat's ass about what happens in the dorms. Like with everything else on this planet, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If you were to ask me what I think a Resident Adviser is, my honest answer would be someone looking to be part of the college community, who is also keenly aware of the financial benefits of said job.
Being an RA is a pretty awesome gig. There are plenty of downsides and obviously a lot of tense situations, but on the whole I found my job to be both fun and rewarding. Maybe it was because I got lucky, but my residents were pretty dope. Sure — there were nights that I basically wanted to punch myself in the face because I was awakened at 3 a.m. by a student who had locked himself out. Twice. But those situations were infrequent and I use them as writing inspo all the time. If you are considering applying for an RA position in your college or university you will need to really think about it. It's easy to assume that you are just interviewing for a desk job, when in fact you have a lot of responsibilities. I suggest you talk to someone who has held that position in order to get an inside look at the way the job will work. You don't want to realize half way through your training that the job just isn't for you.
To those who had been in the coveted position of RA, I give you this list of things that ONLY college RA's could possibly understand. So get ready for your next duty shift and see how many of these have happened to you.
1. The Swag Of Free Room and Board
The perks cannot get any better than this. Seriously. Being an RA meant that I had my own HUGE room and bathroom all to myself. If I wasn't an RA I would just spend my entire life in that room because it was glorious. As someone who had to share her bedroom with her grandmother until she was 13, I tend to appreciate my own space like no one else.
2. The Extra Swag Of A Free Meal Plan
I know that most colleges don't have the greatest food supply, but having a free meal plan was pretty awesome. I had a second job and was able to save all of the money I made because none of it was going towards grocery shopping or cooking supplies.
3. The Unspeakable Awkward That Is Orientation
When you have orientation with your residents, it's basically like the awkward Olympics. No one wants to talk and everyone is going to be pulling off icebreakers.
4. The Madness Of ~Training Season~
The RA bootcamp is performed by all the RA's regardless if you have done it the semester before. You can always use a refresher. Luckily, everyone is talkative as hell and there are never awkward pauses. Ice breakers, team building, and even practice rounds where you are given fake situations and tested on your response. I wanted to make a montage movie of everything I did the week leading up to the start of the semester.
5. Your Relationships With People Change
Unfortunately, the moment you are labeled an RA, you are no longer a human being. Authority has a way of making you into something you might not have wanted to be made into. Cool & Chill Dasha suddenly became RA Dasha. Residents will avoid talking to you because they assume your goal in life is to get them in trouble. I honestly felt like I understood what being a cop was like. (Obviously minus all the dangerous heroic business, but you get it.)
6. The Thirst For Sleep Is Real
Doing rounds is the biggest part of the job. Walking around and making sure people aren't being too loud after hours, smoking in their rooms, or having parties with 40 people in their tiny dorms. Duty is basically doodie. I never had to write anyone up, but I dreaded the idea of having to do it.
7. Knocking On Doors
Some people got a rush form doing this. I wished to whatever spiritual being that exists for me to never have to knock on anyones door and say "RA Dasha!". One time I was borrowing a friends DVD and knocked on the door to his dorm. His roommate answered and upon seeing me stashed the bottle of SODA he was drinking behind his back. As if I would just bust in and start writing him up for drinking carbonated beverages.
8. Being Introduced With "... She's An RA"
Every time you are introduced get ready for your job to be explained. It will be your friends way of saying I know her job is super lame, but she's cool. And you will just have to go with it.
9. The Impossible Feat Of Attempting To Learn Eight Bajillion Names
Your job is to bridge the gap between college faculty and its students. You will need to learn everyones' names and things about them. I am HORRIBLE with names and that tends to be the worst part of the job for me. I ended up having to make up rhymes. And there is nothing less cool then stoping mid-sentence to repeat a rhyme in your head so that you can call your resident by name.
10. The Paperwork That Leaks Out Your Ears
You will be filling out nightly reports. There will be so much paperwork you will wonder why you aren't getting class credit.
11. The Horror Show That Is The Moving In/Moving Out Process
You will be the first person that the students talk to when they move in and move out. You will be checking rooms, taking notes, reporting on damages and no one will thank you even if you asked for it. Think about it. When is the last time you thanked the repair person in your office?
12. The Holiday Wommmmp
Unlike every other student, you as an RA will sometimes have to stay at the dorms for holiday breaks. Thanksgiving is one such holiday. If there are students in the dorms, you are in the dorms.
13. Bye Bye Weekends
Because my program was relatively new, they didn't have the maximum amount of RA's hired. That meant that we all had to be on duty at least twice in one month during the weekends. You couldn't go out with friends because you had a job on campus. This actually ended up being super helpful because I was able to catch up on homework and TV. Plus, whenever I did go out, I valued my time a lot more and was fun as hell!
14. The Bonanza Of Planning Programs
You were in charge of creating programming for students that would get them out of their rooms and into social situation. You would lure them into an education program under the guise of free food like pizza. Everyone loves free pizza.
15. Floor Meeting Fearmongering
These were always a clusterf*ck. People would be talking, no one would be paying attention and you knew that two days later you will be receiving 50 angry emails saying you never notified people about a certain policy. Luckily for you, as an employee of the college, you can't respond with "Maybe if you turned your head around and listened to what I was saying in the meeting, we would have no problems today." Instead you will be forced to email each person back with a personalized explanation. Life!
16. The Rewarding Feeling Of Helping Students
When people actually came to me with a problem I was almost always able to help them. Whether it was just talking them through a breakup or directing them to the appropriate college resources, that ended up being the best part of my job. The people you helped always remember that and you tended to bond with people you normally wouldn't be hanging out with all the time.
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