The basic job description of a resident assistant calls for a student peer who lives in a residence hall at a college or university to provide general supervision for the other residents. Often the resident assistant, also known as an RA, is slightly older than the other residents and may be working on a Master’s degree or Doctorate degree and can even be married with children.
A resident assistant has multiple tasks including acting as a counselor for students, serving as a resource for students who have academic or other questions and enforcing residence policies.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Resident Assistant
- Learns the names and any special needs of residents.
- Balances personal schedules and priorities with the needs of the students living on the hall.
- Behaves in a professional manner as a positive role model for students in the hall and being accountable for choices and actions.
- Serves as a liaison from the hall to the building superintendent or coordinator.
- Maintains excellent communication with students, holds regular meetings and posts information on bulletin boards.
- Helps create a safe environment for all students by making sure all locks are working on doors and windows and all other security measures are in place.
- Enforces noise level standards and rules related to underage drinking of alcoholic beverages and use of illegal drugs.
- Keeps accurate records and writes detailed reports.
- Makes sure broken items, equipment or utilities that malfunction are repaired or replaced by the school’s maintenance department.
- Monitors conflict resolution activities between students.
- Helps students get involved with social activities to smooth the transition from home to campus life.
- Plans mixers and events that help residents get to know each other.
- Upholds the values and goals of the specific learning institution.
- Enforces rules that call for residents to be tolerant and respectful of one another and promotes diversity and multi-cultural awareness.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Has exceptional leadership and interpersonal skills.
- Possesses excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Demonstrates superior organizational skills and the ability to effectively manage time and multi-task.
- Has the ability to make sound judgment and ethical decisions.
- Exhibits strong problem solving, negotiation and conflict resolution.
- Displays good active listening skills and pays attention to details.
- Has knowledge of how to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
- Masters basic first aid techniques and knows procedures for dealing with multiple kinds of emergencies including fire, tornado, terrorist attack and others.
Education and Experience
- Enrolled in the college or university as a full-time student working toward a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.
- Maintains the minimum grade point average required by the school.
- Passes a criminal background check and drug test.
- Has the responsibility of being on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- Lives in a very small apartment with minimal creature comforts.
- Endures stressful situations when some students choose to break the housing rules.
- A resident assistant earns an average salary of $16,000 to $30,000 a year depending on the policies of the college or university and the tasks that are required of the RA.
- In most cases, an RA also receives free or reduced-priced housing and free or discounted meals.