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What Is a Resident Assistant and How to Become One

Resident Assistant

What Do Resident Assistants Do?

Resident assistants (RAs) are students at a college or university who provide supervision and support in on-campus dormitories. As a resident assistant, you enforce school rules, engage your fellow students to build camaraderie in your residence hall, and provide academic or emotional support when necessary. You must also file status reports and have regular leadership meetings with school administrators. RAs are paid with free room and board.

How to Become a Resident Assistant

To become a resident assistant (RA), you must be an actively enrolled student at the university and live on-campus in the residence hall. Most institutions require their RAs to complete at least one full year of studies before applying for the position. Additional qualifications include excellent communication skills, a solid grade point average, and creative problem-solving abilities. Students often turn to RAs when they are facing a difficult situation, so you must be patient, compassionate, and know how to resolve conflicts quickly and effectively.

How to Be a Good Resident Assistant

Good resident assistants (RAs) care about their fellow students and want to create a positive atmosphere in the residence hall. Be outgoing, friendly, and approachable to the other residents living in your dorm. Organize fun community-building activities with music, food, or games. When someone has a problem or just needs to talk, be a good listener and do what you can to help them resolve their issue. Keep up with your studies to provide a good role model for everyone in your hall. Be fair when resolving conflicts between students. Communicate regularly with administrators and make them aware of any potentially harmful situation that may arise under your supervision.

Resident Assistant Job Description Sample

With this Resident Assistant job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Resident Assistant role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a compassionate, experienced resident assistant to join our senior assisted living care team. In this role, you will help our residents maintain a sense of independence and vitality by aiding them in daily tasks that are challenging for them. You will always put the resident's needs and safety first and work to provide a warm and caring environment. You will report to the Resident Director and help residents with daily tasks ranging from hygiene and mobility to household duties.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide compassionate and individualized assistance to our residents
  • Assist with daily personal tasks such as dressing, oral hygiene, and bathing
  • Ensure residents' apartments are clean and tidy
  • Help with dropping off, picking up, and hanging laundry
  • Help residents with correspondence such as phone and email
  • Monitor and report any concerning changes in residents' behavior or condition
  • Ensure residents are eating and drinking according to health care provider's orders
  • Make sure residents are taking all medications on time and in proper amounts
  • Provide compassionate yet professional companionship and conversation

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent required, college degree preferred
  • Certification as a CNA, PCA, or HHA preferred
  • Must be willing to provide compassionate holistic care with dignity and respect
  • Significant work experience in a residential care facility is strongly preferred
  • Must have good references from previous employers
  • Must pass background check
  • Great communication and interpersonal skills
  • Basic reading, writing, math, and computer skills
  • Good conversation skills and a friendly demeanor
  • Able to work independently with little supervision
  • Able to maintain organized logs of activities and services provided
  • Physically capable of doing work that requires standing, lifting, bending, and pushing
  • Patient and calm, especially in difficult situations
  • Reliable, compassionate, and willing to serve others