They’re some of most flamboyant students UNH has to offer. You might see them doing crafts in the wee hours of the night, or attending an event in the MUB. They’ll be at your swim meets. They’ll chat with you over a basket of mozzarella sticks from Wild Kitty. They’ll ask you how your exam went yesterday. They’re your RAs.
For me, it has always been difficult to put myself out there. I’m not one for spontaneity. I like sticking to a plan. You won’t see me strolling in around 2 AM from a crowded party on campus. My idea of a good time is a night in, with a cup of chamomile tea, and switching on a good movie. (You catch my drift?)
If not for RAs, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d still be cooped up in my dorm room, unaware of the amazing opportunities waiting outside my door. Because of their encouragement, I discovered my passion for yoga, signed up for clubs, have gone to sporting events, have attended lectures in the MUB, and joined organizations bigger than myself. Some of my closest friends were made through channels hoed by my RAs.
Okay, enough sappiness– now that I’ve gushed over my RAs, I’m going to tell you how to become one.
Becoming a residential assistant is a long, competitive process. The staff at Res Life is looking for the best of the best: students who are willing to commit their time towards fellow students. Over the course of four weeks, hall directors will comb through applicants in search of those who can prove they are invested in fulfilling the position.
Sounds a bit daunting right? That’s why I sat down with RA Lauren Smith to divulge all you need to know about giving it your best shot.
Being an RA is like a balancing act: one moment you’re hanging with residents in the lounge, the next you’re filling out a report for a complaint. You want to be friendly, and “individualize with the residents” but also aware that you’re accountable for their safety. In regards to authority, aim for communication:
“Have people elaborate.”
and give others the “benefit of the doubt.”
What does that look like? Asking questions, having a conversation, and hearing each side of the story. This way, you can gain some perspective and find “common ground” that will bring you closer to a solution.
Of course, there is aspect of being social. RAs should be warm and welcoming, “someone who is approachable” and “peaks people’s interests” so that ultimately the student can be the best version of his or herself. Check in with residents down the hall: don’t just wish them luck on exams, but follow up after the fact. Keep the conversation going.
Lauren is a second year RA residing in the Upper Quad of campus. She is currently a junior working on her degree in sociology and justice studies.
Interested in being an RA next year? It’s not too late! Start the process here and submit your application by January 25th.