Who would have thought that I would end up in such a position in the university? I know that a lot of first timers like me, and even the veterans, sit and think the same thing. Do you remember what you felt when you heard that you were going to become an R.A.? I remember that I was so elated at the time that I didn’t even think about all the things that came with the job. That is, until I started. Somehow I seemed to have forgotten that I would also be a student. You all know what I’m talking about, especially if this is your first year. Reality comes out of nowhere and slaps you. It’s not just being there for people and changing their lives. It’s being there, changing lives, open door hours, RA meetings, going to classes, fixing bulletin boards, thinking up programs, and more. We didn’t think of all these things, did we?
But then after you started you found out that it really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that bad until you had to confront one of your residents. Remember the first time you had to be the “mean RA”? I remember I had to give myself a little speech. I had to convince myself that I had enough friends and if I lost the friendship of a resident, it wouldn’t matter. I lied! But after it was all said and done, I still had a friend.
My residents surprise me all the time. I must have fined the whole floor and we still go out to eat and have parties. It’s a family. They get on your nerves sometimes but you gotta love ’em. I thought that getting along with the residents would be so hard but with experience, you find out something new every day. When I hear little comments like, “You’re the best,” it makes it all worthwhile.
When I first started I didn’t want to be the R.A. that everyone knows but nobody likes, and I definitely didn’t want to the R.A. that’s so cool that she let’s her residents get away with murder and then looses her job. Now I look at myself and I can honestly say that I don’t think I’m doing too badly.
At first, things are usually shaky but when you stick it out they seem to get better with time. I stuck it out. I have learned to let my residents know where I’m coming from. They know that I have a job to do and I take it seriously. So, when I reprimand them, even though they may be mad at first, they always know that it’s nothing personal.
Being an RA is not always easy but here are 5 things that I think every RA should know:
1. Know when to say NO.
2. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer.
3. You are never alone.
4. Never blame yourself for a resident’s mistakes.
5. You are a student too.
I hope these tips help keep you focused like they helped me. Now go on and live the RA legacy. May the force be with you.
Submitted by K.C., Resident Assistant, Hofstra University