Becoming an RA: Students hone leadership skills as resident assistants

Mackenzie Mathews

WKU will be meeting its next generation of Resident Assistants in a few weeks. The main interview process, called “Super Saturday,” will take place on March 22, and later the candidates will find out whether they can join the ranks of about 120 RAs on-campus.

RAs live on each residence hall floor to help residents with anything from academics to social lives. Their job begins during MASTER Plan and does not end until all halls are empty after move-out day at the end of the year.

“I became an RA because I couldn’t afford housing and it was an opportunity where I could still live on campus,” Alyse Young, a junior from Seattle, said. “I really liked the idea where you worked with students, like a mentor.”

RAs are responsible for getting to know their residents and being aware of their standings academically and socially. They plan programs for their floors and are required to fill a quota of programs each quarter.

Their job also extends to decorating the residence halls with door name-tags and information boards, and they have to work the desk in the hall lobbies checking residents’ IDs and checking guests in and out.

Each RA also has to have an individual job, like taking care of the mail. As a photojournalism major, Young will be taking pictures around the hall and putting them online for the residents and staff.

“It’s really time-consuming, so that’s the hard part,” Young said. “It’s difficult to balance academics and a social life with the job.”

In order to become an RA, Housing & Residence Life recommends beginning by talking with someone currently in the position to find out the pros and cons. 

“In our position, you’re a student first, so we look for people who know academics are important and are able to be role models of that for their residents,” HRL Coordinator Minnette Huck said.

HRL looks for potential RAs in people with leadership qualities and those who can relate to others. It is important that they desire to learn new things and be a part of a team, and they have to be in good academic standing as a sophomore with at least a 2.0 GPA.

The application can be found online with essay questions and choice of an interview time, which will take the applicant to Super Saturday. During the Super Saturday program, the candidates will be grouped together to complete activities.

“It creates a group dynamic of people who are interviewing together,” Huck said. “We’ve had past RAs say it’s a great time to get to know people, and you know those in the fall who got the position.”

Individual interviews will take place with the professional staff, and the contenders will then have to answer a case study, presenting their solution to a problem before current RAs. The process allows them to meet almost everyone in the HRL department.

“It helps them see who we are and what it’s going to be like as an RA and who you’ll be working with,” Huck said.

As RAs, students will get $1,000 off housing per semester and will be paid for 15 hours of work per week. They will gain leadership skills, professional development and experience with conflict resolution skills.

“It’s stuff everyone is going to need for future positions and jobs, so it really helps hone those skills,” Huck said.