From an RA to you, here’s why you should become an RA at Temple

RA application season has arrived

It’s that time of year again here at Temple – the awaited RA application season!

I am about to spit a whole chunk of clichés you have probably heard too many times throughout your time at college – but rest assured it’s for good reason.

Joining University Housing and Residential Life, or “Reslife”, as we call it, changed my life in all aspects and I’m hoping if the things I am about to mention resonate with you in any form, it can do the same for you.

If you’re on the fence about it and not sure if it’s right for you, here are my top reasons for becoming a Resident Assistant, and what you should know before you apply.

Free room and board

Wow, bet you never heard that before! I know this is the number one reason people are interested in the job so let’s get that one out in the open.

As an RA at Temple, you get free housing and a meal plan (specifications vary and are stated in the contract for your year of employment).

Does that save a lot of money on your end? For sure. However, is this enough of a reason to take on the job? I’d say no, so keep reading.

Your staff bonds are irreplaceable

Just like with any position or job, unless you were or currently are an RA you will never fully understand the lifestyle of an RA.

Yes, it is a lifestyle.

Your staff members are the people who you will end up hanging out with and eventually becoming some of your best friends. They see you at your worst, at your best, and they know what the job is like and can offer you their shoulder when you need it most.

During my first year of being an RA, I loved my supervisor so much that I felt like I could tell him anything. He pushed me and believed in me when I needed it the most.

My co-RA who looked after the other half of the floor became my sister, and other members of my staff truly became my best friends. Now I’m not saying you’ll become buddy buddies with everyone. Just like a true family, you’re not going to get along with everyone on your staff and that’s okay too.

You’ll become a master of time management

…Maybe not the first few months of the job. However, learning how to manage your time is one of the most essential skills I’ve gained in my role as an RA. You have no other choice but to get a firm grasp on your time management skills. You may have a test the next day and someone will knock on your door at midnight crying to say they’re struggling with something.

You’ll be on call and people are having a party next door, so you'll have to write up a report instead of studying. There will even be some days where you don’t have any of that to do too.

But the point is, as an RA, life is unpredictable.

You must be on top of your game to not fall behind. But that’s with anything in life, and I learned to take time for myself and get back up.

You will learn about your leadership style

As an RA you’re looked at as a role model of sorts, a leader of the floor, and ultimately a representative of the school.

There’s a misconception that all RAs are the same, or you have to be a certain way in order to be hired. However, every building is different and every student is different so Resident Directors need to find a diverse range of folks to fill in those roles.

No one wants a team of only introverts or a team of all extroverts. I’ve learned and seen myself grow as a leader since my first night of being on duty.

I’m not the loudest most extroverted human out there, and so knocking on a door and “busting a party” was very intimidating for me. I’d rehearse what I would have to say ten times outside the resident’s door before knocking on their door to document them. A year later, I’m confident in my ability to diffuse a situation or talk to a student having mental health concerns. Granted I’m not perfect, and I still get nervous for some things, but I can see a huge improvement in the way I lead, and the way I am as a person change, and I think my supervisors can also attest to that.

Growing as a person

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Branching from the above point, not only do you grow as a leader – you grow as a person.

Being a Muslim, I didn’t even think I would get hired as an RA because how my lifestyle differs from the “stereotypical college student”.

For example, I’ve never been to a party (a frat or house party).

I have never, nor plan to ever drink. I don’t date. The list goes on.

When I did get hired, I wasn’t even sure how well I’d do in the position.

My first night on duty a resident drank too much and when I went in his room to inspect, I said it was all clear as in I didn’t see any alcohol when there were at least nine bottles of malt liquor right in front of me that my supervisor had to point out to me. I had never drank or been around alcohol so I had no idea what it even looked like. A year later, I now am well versed in pointing out bottles of alcohol, real bongs, homemade bongs, and any other forms of drug paraphernalia. Apart from that, over the wide variety of experiences that I’ve encountered in my position as an RA, I’ve learned tremendously about who I am, what I stand for (and won’t stand for), what I’m passionate about, and so much more.

I’m more confident, and I’ve grown from when I first received the position.

Connections with Residents

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This is perhaps one of my most prized reason that I would stay an RA for the rest of my life if I could. I’ve had 60 residents last year and another 60 this year and getting to know each and every one of them is the reason I do this job. Some of them will only say hi to you, and others will text you everyday. Some will only come to you when they need, and others will write messages on your whiteboard. But they are all so very unique and learning about who they are, where they came from, and what they love in life―gives me fuel everyday and I’ve learned so much from them I can’t put into words.

While I only listed six, there are probably a hundred more reasons you will get if you ask another person and their experience. There are so many things I didn’t mention that I love about the job from bulletin boards, being crafty, organizing and hosting programs, etc. Being an RA doesn’t mean you’re perfect, nor is your experience as one going to be, there will be ups and downs, but after it all I think it’s worthwhile to give a chance if you see yourself in any of these situations. It’s a rewarding experience and if you’re interested, applications can be found here . And if you’re on the fence, it doesn’t hurt to apply.

If you have specific questions, feel free to send me an email [email protected]!

Temple University