Be a Resident Advisor

Here is a job that is just perfect for some students! And some colleges offer big financial incentives for students in this position, too. Being a resident advisor (RA) is kind of like being an activities coordinator, babysitter, mediator, and policy enforcement officer all in one. It is a job with a lot of responsibility, but colleges usually provide plenty of training and resources.

Ideally, students who are RAs should be leaders who like to take charge and who get along well with their peers. They should be outgoing and not afraid to deal with dorm problems as they arise—such as noisy residents, roommates who do not get along, stressed-out students, and so on. You might be thinking, “Why in the world would someone want a job like that?” Well, some students like the responsibility and are good at it. It is the perfect job for them.

RA Benefits

The pay and benefits of being a resident advisor can be fantastic. Some institutions actually pay their RAs as much as two to three times more than what they pay students working in other on-campus jobs. It is also common for institutions to completely waive the room and board charges for RAs. Sometimes this even includes the entire cost of meal plans. These two factors alone could represent a substantial amount of money that would be freed up and go exclusively toward paying your tuition!

An RA package has a roughly estimated monetary worth around $5,000 for a single academic year. Don't forget that an RA job would also look excellent on a resume when you're eventually ready to enter the workforce. If you can handle managing kids in a dorm, you can handle just about anything.

Colleges like to hire students just as much as students like to be hired. The biggest reason for hiring a work-study student is often because it is the most economical way to find a temporary and low-cost employee. Through the federal work study program, schools get a certain amount of money from the government, which they use to pay wages to students doing necessary work on campus.

The Downside to RA Work

All dorm residents have a residential advisor hired by the residential life office to interact and provide fun, companionship, supervision, and so on. Part of your job as an RA usually includes hosting, organizing, and presenting a complete series of group events or presentations every single semester. Be aware that colleges are big on seeing students “turn out” in support for their programs. As an RA, you would be expected to make that happen. This can be a source of extra stress if you've already got a full course load and exams and papers to worry about.

There can be some social downsides to being an RA as well, especially if you like to have every single weekend off and to yourself. A big part of being an RA is doing the right thing and being responsible even when you want to do what everyone else is doing. It means breaking up a party down the hall that has gotten out of hand, or asking the partygoers on the floor above you to keep it down—at 3 a.m. on the last morning of finals week, when the only thing you want to do is get some sleep before your last exam.

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