Resident Advisor Essay Definition

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Resident Advisor Application

This is a sample application for the position of Resident Advisor, or RA. It consists of answers to questions typically asked on RA applications. To see free sample essays, please use the search bar above. The following answers have been edited.

Question: What is your motivation for applying for this position?

Answer: I am motivated to apply for this position because I want to gain experience in leadership, and to develop my skills in working with people.

Question: What are two important topics you believe residents should be educated about in on-campus housing? Why do you think each topic is important? What are some creative ways to educate residents about these topics?

Answer: I believe that residents should be educated about the dangers of alcohol consumption, and the importance of respecting diversity. I often hear students using homophobic and racist comments as direct insults or in general conversation, and I feel that such language, which can be very hurtful, stems not just from hate but from ignorance. I think that letting the students know that there is no tolerance for any disrespectful actions or words would be an effective way of preventing hate speech. Concerning alcohol consumption, I think that the students should take a survey at the beginning of the year. The survey would include such questions as “Did you know that 60% of CP students have up to 4 drinks a week?” and “Did you know that you may lose your housing license on your first alcohol- or drug-related offense?” Giving students information in the form of question they have to answer would help ensure that the students read the information and think about it.

Question: Please identify two of your personal qualities that you feel will help you to succeed in the Resident/Community Advisor position.

Answer: I believe I have a good ability to relate to people, and to always fulfill my duties. My ability to relate to people will help me get through to the students, and let them know what they need to know, without alienating them. I would want them to think of me as a friend first, and authority figure second. I would hope in that we can quickly learn to understand and respect each other. My determination to always accomplish my duty is based on the kind of strong sense of responsibility that no Resident Advisor should be without.

Question: Please identify two skill areas you think you will need to improve upon in order to help you succeed in the Resident/Community Advisor position.

Answer: I think that I will need to improve my public speaking skills and my emergency situation skills. While I relate very well to others in personal encounters, I have always had a fear of getting up and speaking in front of large groups and I know that this position will help me face my fear and overcome it. I would also like to improve my readiness for the responsibility of being an RA by getting trained in CPR and First Aid.

Question: Do you think it is important for a Resident/Community Advisor to be aware of multicultural issues and be open to working with people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs? Please explain your answer.

Answer: I think it goes without saying that the answer to this question must be "yes." Cal Poly is a big school if we don't have tolerance for diversity, we are lost. Some people take their cultural identities very seriously; some treat others from different backgrounds with indifference or even contempt. This makes altercations possible. It makes it possible for the living situation of some students to be uncomfortable. A Resident Advisor has to able to manage that by helping to create a living environment where everyone is free to be themselves without infringing on the rights and freedoms of others, including the right to be free from harassment and hate. An RA therefore has to preach tolerance, but RA himself or herself has to be more than merely tolerant of diversity, and more than merely open to working with others. I love meeting people from different backgrounds because I learn most from people who are different from myself. I aim to respect others, not "tolerate" them. This is the going to be the student’s new home, and they should always be treated with respect in their place of living.

Question: As a Resident/Community Advisor, what steps would you take in your living community to support students and to educate them about various race or cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation, disabilities, or religious beliefs?

Answer: Personally, I believe there is no need to educate students explicitly about everyone’s specific differences. An RA doesn't need to lecture students about what Christians believe or what Muslims believe or what Atheists believe. The RA needs to point out that everyone is a person first of all, and that regardless of race, cultural background, sexual orientation, disabilities or religious beliefs, everyone should be treated first as a person, and so with the same amount of respect as everyone other person. I would want to encourage students to feel free to express their personal beliefs but only insofar as they can do so without disrespecting the beliefs of others. Mostly, however, I would want to set an example for others by respecting every student.

Question: Describe any past or present leadership roles that you have had and how those experiences might help you in the Resident/community Advisor position.

Answer: Over the summer before I my first year here at Cal Poly, I was the manager of a small gym near my home. I was responsible for a lot of work around the Gym, such as equipment installation, custodial work, setting up the stereo, the computer, the fax machine, and telephone equipment, and other miscellaneous tasks. Essentially, I was running a business practically alone. But I also had to work with other people and meet all kinds of customers from different backgrounds. I had to answer their questions and attend to their needs. I learned a lot about relating to people in a way that was respectful and attentive to their needs.

Question: Please list all outside obligations you anticipate that might limit the amount of time that you would have for the Resident/Community Advisor position (include research, field work, student teaching, athletics, lab classes, youth groups, etc.).

Answer: I have a job working at the University Union for 15 hours a week, but I will resign from that position if I am chosen to be an RA. I am studying Construction Management, so I expect to have a few rather long lab classes over the course of the next year. I work hard at school, but I am ready to commit to taking the time necessary do meet the responsibility of being an RA.

Question. How would you balance the roles of providing support to residents in your community while still enforcing University and Housing policies?

Answer: I would make it known that I am someone to whom students can always talk and who will be there for students, although I would set very clear and strict boundaries. I would also make sure that I was viewed as a friend, but not someone who can be taken advantage of.

Submitted by: Tom

Tagged...Application for Resident Advisor, Resident Advisor Application Essay

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About Tom

NamesHouse Fellow, Resident Assistant, Resident Advisor, RA, Resident Mentor, Senior Resident, Residence Don

Activity sectors

CompetenciesCommunication, Organization, Planning

Fields of

Student affairs

Related jobs

Coach (sport), tutor

A resident assistant (also variously known as a house fellow,resident advisor,community assistant,resident mentor,residence don,peer advisor,community advisor,collegiate fellow, or senior resident), commonly shortened to RA, is a trained peer leader who supervises those living in a residence hall or group housing facility. The majority of RAs work at colleges, universities, or residential mental health and substance abuse facilities.[1]

An RA has many roles and responsibilities, including building a residential community through programming, acting as a para-counselor for students, being a familiar first resource for students with academic or institutional questions, and enforcing residence policies. Typically, but not exclusively, the RA goes through a rigorous training process. RAs must balance their schedule and priorities with the needs of the students they are supporting. Above all, a resident assistant must be an example and uphold professional and personal accountability as outlined by the institution.

Job benefits[edit]

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 the national mean hourly wage of RAs was $12.17, and the national mean average annual wage was $25,320. An RA at a college or university does not typically receive an hourly wage, but is compensated in other ways. Common compensations are price-adjusted or free room, free board, and/or stipends. Listed below are two tables of RA hourly and annual mean wage, broken down by individual industries.

Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation:[1]

IndustryEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools9,710$13.64$28,380
Residential Mental Retardation, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities9,630$11.27$23,440
Other Residential Care Facilities5,930$11.42$23,750
Individual and Family Services4,780$11.33$23,560
Vocational Rehabilitation Services4,060$11.76$24,460

Top paying industries for this occupation:[1]

IndustryEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals740$15.56$32,360
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals580$15.38$31,990
Other Schools and Instruction50$15.02$31,250
Educational Support Services40$14.27$29,670
Junior Colleges810$13.82$28,740

Job duties and responsibilities[edit]

Each institution has its own duties and requirements for an RA. The following are the more common responsibilities of an RA.


These duties are a direct result of the leadership portion of the RA position. The RA is often asked to be a liaison from the floor to the building coordinator. This requires writing reports, keeping accurate records, and maintaining good communication. RAs are usually required to meet with their building coordinator weekly or bi-weekly to discuss their residents, planned programming, and any other issues or subjects that could affect the ability to perform their responsibilities. The RA may also assist with public relations and housing needs.


These duties are designated from the values and goals of the institution. This denotes that the RA should be a role model by following the regulations. In addition, the RA could be required to disseminate, explain, and uphold these regulations.

At the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, Resident Advisors are role models, peer advisors, resource people, student advocates, and educators. RAs assume leadership roles in creating a positive and friendly atmosphere for students of varied backgrounds. RAs at Illinois develop relationships with their residents on a personal level and try to become a resource to each of them. An RA at Illinois is responsible for a floor of residents, and creates programs and activities for their floor throughout the semester. RAs can point residents in the right direction and help them solve problems by referring them to departments on campus for more extensive help with certain issues. RAs also make sure to address the needs of underrepresented groups of students and work with other staff to incorporate the needs and wishes of these student groups into the community model.

At Illinois, RAs are compensated with waived fees for housing and meal plans, and are given a monthly stipend of roughly $105.00. RAs have nights where they are on duty, and must complete procedures such as checking the security of the building, making sure residents in the residence halls are safe and don’t have any unaddressed concerns, and be available to anyone who is having problems or needs help with something.[2]

The job of an RA is to create a community among their residents that is inclusive, welcoming, and comfortable environment for students who are living in university housing. Creating a social and welcoming living space is important for students getting acclimated to a new setting (the college campus) and making sure students feel at home.


The residents and the RA compose a community, simply by living together in a similar location. The RA may be required to foster this community by having the residents be tolerant and respectful of the other residents and their property, or going so far as to create programming to create a sense of family on the floor or in the building. Community programming may also be a required duty in order to help create a sense of connectedness in the living space.


These duties deal with directly helping the residents as individuals. This requires the RA to know all the residents and be able to help each resident if they run into any problems with each other as well as with other things that may follow . Some problems could pertain to relationships, class-work, or institutional questions. The RA should have the skills to either assist the resident, or know of a resource that the resident can use to solve their problem.


These duties involve creating a safe and healthy environment for the residents to reside in. Enforcing Community Standards, such as quiet hours and alcohol & drug policy are frequent occurrences. Fines, bonds, and behavioural contracts can be issued at many universities by RAs. Monitoring floor activity and helping with conflict resolution between residents is another important security related duty of the RA.


Resident assistants are often expected to promote diversity in their residence halls. They are expected to facilitate the development of both awareness and tolerance among the students who reside in the dormitory or institution. RAs must be sure to promote an inclusive environment within the residence halls and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and represented with regards to their identities on campus.


This refers to assisting residents in making a smooth transition into campus life by getting them involved in traditional activities in their institution such as homecoming events, for example.


This refers to academic development and social awareness. Resident assistants are there to promote the well-being of residents in university housing, and to make sure that residents feel like they have enough resources available to them and know how to use them. RAs may try to teach students about social justice and inclusivity, and take students to places on campus where they can learn more about social justice and groups with differing identities. RAs can show students where to go when they need academic help or advice, and can even offer advice of their own as they are often older students with more experience.[2]


This refers to the personal development of residents that enables them to gain a level of self-awareness.


Resident assistants must encourage self-awareness and personal accountability amongst the residents.


One way these elements can be achieved is through programming. This is a major aspect of the job for a resident assistant. Programming can come in three different forms. This includes planned, passive, and take. A planned program is an event created or co-sponsored by the resident assistant. This event is specifically tailored to fit the needs and/or interests of the residents. Sometimes RAs are required to have one planned event for their residents a month, as well as contribute to a building program once a semester in which they work with other RAs to create a meaningful program for the whole building. A passive program is one that is completed without assembling or direct interaction between the residents and/or the resident assistant. Passive programs are generally used to start a conversation on a particular issue affecting the residents. These programs can range from a bulletin board that can be casually read in passing, or they can be more interactive like taking a survey, for example. Finally, take programs require the resident assistant to accompany residents to an event which can include an on-campus program such as an institution sponsored event, a basketball game or perhaps a movie. All these programs help to develop a community amongst residents and incorporate the core values mentioned above.[4]


United Kingdom[edit]

The term "senior wardens", "student wardens" or "senior mentors" is a position in UK universities similar to that of the resident assistant in the USA. Such positions do not generally entail as much focus on improvement of student life as in the USA, and are instead more directed towards pastoral care of residents along with duties covering security, fire and first-aid along with night/weekend duty work. Furthermore, members of wardenial teams are often expected to contribute to the overall social life of their hall of residence. The positions are most often filled by students undertaking a PhD, although mature students studying for a master's degree have also been known to fill the role. Even undergraduate students from their second year of study onwards can be offered the position, such as what happens at the University of Bradford.


In Mexico, resident assistants are typically called "prefectos". The position has many of the same functions as in the USA, with a few exceptions including taking attendance every night at 11:30pm. The residence halls tend to be mainly of the same sex; therefore attendance is taken every night by a resident assistant to ensure opposite sex guests are no longer in the building.

Notable RAs[edit]

  • Anthony Bradley, theology professor at The King's College - Clemson University
  • Ryan C. Clark - RA at Virginia Tech, killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.[5]
  • Hillary Clinton - Wellesley College, United States Senator, former First Lady of the United States, 2008 and 2016 Presidential Candidate and Former United States Secretary of State[6]
  • Katie Couric, "Today", "CBS Evening News" "Katie" - University of Virginia[6]
  • Mike Ditka - University of Pittsburgh[6]
  • Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense, Former President of Texas A&M University, Former Director of Central Intelligence - College of William & Mary[7]
  • Donald Glover, Actor/Comedian/Writer/Rapper - New York University[7]
  • Joanie Laurer, aka Chyna from the WWE - University of Tampa[6]
  • Terry McAuliffe, 72nd Governor of Virginia, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
  • Jerry O'Connell, Actor (Sliders, Las Vegas, Jerry Maguire, Stand by Me) - New York University[7]
  • Paul Reiser, Actor - Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY[7]
  • Tom Reynolds - University of Maryland, College Park, Author and host of The Complete Guide to Everything
  • Adam Sandler, Actor - New York University[6]
  • Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami, Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Clinton Administration - Syracuse University[8]
  • Wesley Snipes, Actor - SUNY Purchase[7]
  • Tony Cohen, Stand-Up Comedian
  • Brandon Mendelson, Stand-Up Comedian and author of "Social Media Is Bullshit" - SUNY Potsdam
  • Kerry Washington, Actor - George Washington University
  • Max Collins, Bodybuilder - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

See also[edit]

Residential fellow


External links[edit]

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