There’s more to being an RA than just accepting the position.
Congratulations, you did it!
Why am I congratulating you? Because you are a superhero, also known as a college student, stuck in limbo between the carefree teenage years and being an actual adult. You juggle too many papers, extracurricular activities, work-study jobs, internships, community-service hours, research opportunities — need I go on? But every good superhero has a mortal enemy, and for many college students living in college residence halls, the enemy is the resident assistant (RA).
That’s me, the RA. I spent half of the year in a lovely apartment with the best roommates a girl could ask for until I was hired as a resident assistant for the second semester. Personally, I never thought of RAs as the enemy. Following the rules was never really hard and I appreciated all of the other roles that RAs play besides the authority figure. RAs are community coordinators, conflict mediators, caregivers and friends. But, despite all the good that comes from being an RA, it is quite the transition process from being an average college student to becoming an RA.
After you apply and get offered a position, the first step is making the final decision. Before you decide to accept or decline the offer, it is beneficial to step back and ask yourself why you want to do it. After deciding whether your reasoning is good, making a pros and cons list is helpful. That way, you can put everything out on the table and see which choice will make you the happiest.
If you decide to accept the position, you now have the job of telling your roommates you will no longer be living with them. Personally, I was extremely worried about my roommates. I was afraid they would be upset with me for making the decision to leave and think I was being selfish. I also felt bad for possibly leaving them with a random roommate assignment. However, there is a distinction between being selfish and learning how to make adult decisions. The best advice for telling your roommates is to be straight forward and tell them all your reasons for leaving.
Fellow Fordham University mid-year hire Rory Masterson did just that.
“I walked out and said, ‘I’m accepting the RA position, and I move out next week’,” he said.
Blunt and to the point, which makes you wonder how Masterson’s roommates felt. But Masterson’s former roommate Christopher Del Basso had only kind words to say.
“I know that everyone has to do what is best for them,” Del Basso said. “For two and a half years, I lived with Rory and had grown accustomed to the way we lived. But now, Rory and I are less like roommates and, I think, actually friends. Now we have to plan to hang out, where as before, we would see each other every day and night, so it wasn’t a big deal if we didn’t hang out.”
You have been offered the job, accepted the position and told all related third parties about your choice. Now it’s time to make the adjustment from being a college student to a college student who is an RA. You can’t afford to be careless in reality or on social media since you are now a professional and an authority figure.
Time management is key. Being an RA is a time commitment with meetings and programs galore, so you must be able to map out all other obligations, such as class and extracurricular activities, in advance. That being said, there are also out-of-the-blue issues you must tend to, like a resident locked out of his or her room or a roommate conflict. Always expect the unexpected.
Lastly, some students will actually begin to see you as the enemy. A few acquaintances actually said this to my face when they found out I was now an RA. Your friends will be your friends no matter what, and the rest of the student population needs to know you are not personally attacking them in any way, but just enforcing policies and keeping them safe.
The list of life adjustments from college student to resident assistant can be endless, including some I have yet to experience myself. The new obligations may be scary, but the benefits are outstanding. You get to help your peers, delve into the professional world and meet an amazing staff of other resident assistants in the same boat as you.
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