NHTI, Concord’s Community College, Office of Residence Life is a featured program.
Creation of the Head RA Program: Goals
NHTI is in the 4th year of its Head RA program. The Head RA position was developed to meet several goals. First was to create a new leadership opportunity for students and a chance to increase the responsibility for RAs who wanted more of a challenge. Second, due to work loads our resident directors were finding it difficult to participate in professional opportunities outside of the department and to assist the RDs with their work load.
The other goals were to give student staff the chance to learn more complex tasks and to provide them the opportunity to develop and present workshops during RA training. The position was created with flexibility of task to allow each RD to work with their Head RA to mold the specific tasks of the position to reflect their individual styles and learning goals of the Head RA.
The initial/first Head RAs were appointed and in the second year, a selection process was started which has evolved into a solid selection process.
The Selection Process
In the development of the selection process, it was set out to be more reflective of a professional job search where each candidate is required to submit a resume and cover letter to state their interest in the position. For some of the staff, this was their first time developing a resume. This practice was also implemented in our general RA search requirements. As the next phase of the process was designed, the goal was to create a situation where the best of the RAs could shine. The process was designed to highlight creativity, problem solving agility, bigger picture thinking, their understanding of policy and procedures as well as their understanding of institutional and department mission and values.
This was tackled with the use of a case study. The case study allows the professional staff to tailor the problem to current issues facing the residence hall staff. It is written from an RD’s perspective so the Head RA candidate must show their understanding of the complexity of issues an RD has to consider when dealing with a problem. The candidates then are required to present their solution to the case study problem to the professional staff/selection committee. This tests their public speaking skills as well as showcases their creativity both in how they solve the problem and how they choose to present it. Candidates have chosen PowerPoint, Prezi, Presentation Boards and one even presented her case study using a children’s book she wrote about the problem (complete with illustrations!). In addition to the case study, the traditional interview was kept as part of the process. This allows the selection committee to ask questions specific to the candidate about things such as academic performance, job performance, time commitments, etc.
The results of adding the case study component have been very positive. There have been some surprises too! There have been amazing case study presentations from average RAs and there have been average presentations from outstanding RAs. In each case, Head RAs have been selected who are committed, talented and have an appreciation for the department’s values and goals.
Submitted by Trish Godino Loring, Director of Residence Life, NHTI Concord’s Community College