Life as an RA

Residential Advisors discuss the rewards and challenges of the job

In this file photo, a Resident Advisor (RA), helps one of her residents move into her dorm room.
In this file photo, a Resident Advisor (RA), helps one of her residents move into her dorm room. Photo Courtesy of FSU Photo Services
One of the first people freshmen meet when they come to campus is their Residential Advisor (RA).

What freshmen and possibly even RA’s themselves may not realize is how influential RA’s can be to first year students who live in the resident halls.

“When I first got to campus, my RA always had her door open and was always open to answering my questions about how things work,” pre-nursing freshman Nikki Matzki said. “Even now, when I walk in the building, the RA at the front desk asks how I am doing. It’s a friendly atmosphere and it makes the transition from living at home to on campus much easier.”

When students hear about the RA position, they might just assume that RA’s take on the job because of free housing and other benefits.

“If you’re in it for the money, do not do it. Do it because you want to help people,” business administration junior and second year RA Lyndsey Lampe said. “The job is 24/7. Even when I’m not in the building, people still recognize me as an RA, so I have to uphold the image of representing the housing department and Ferris as a whole.”

From spending hours on door decor, fire drills, late hours at the front desk and talking to residents, RA’s feel like they have a full time job.

“One of the hardest things about being an RA is being available all the time and having someone always knocking on my door,” elementary education junior and first year RA Kayla Martin said. “However, I do value the experiences and the ability to help those in need.”

According to Martin, RA’s put on programs to help the residents bond and get to know one another. Usually it is something fun, with a small educational background.

“My job is rewarding, even when only a few students come to a program. It’s still rewarding to know that I am doing [well] to those that did show up,” Martin said.

First year students that move into the residence halls may tend to think of RA’s as someone to get them in trouble for drinking or being too loud at night, but that is not the only reason why the halls have RA’s.

“I like to think of myself as a big sister instead of a figure with authority,” Lampe said. “Since this is my second year being an RA, I get to see my old residents on campus. They still know me and come up and talk to me. The recognition from them is awesome because obviously I had a positive impact on them.”

Although, RA’s hope to be a friend to their residents, they are still there to protect them and make sure they are safe.

“My residents are my friends. Even though I like to hangout with them, I cannot pick favorites, and I cannot let them get away with doing stuff,” Lampe said.

One of the most difficult duties of an RA is knowing when to draw that line between a friend and an advisor.

“You know you’re an RA when you knock on a resident’s door and you hear ‘oh shit, it’s the RA’s,’” Lampe said.

According to these RA’s, they want their residents to know that they are there to help and have a good time with their residents, not to watch their every move and get them in trouble.

“One of my favorite memories with my RA is when everyone in the hall played card games,” pre-radiography freshman Abby Harmala said. “I look up to my RA. She is very helpful and always acts like she is in a good mood, even though she may not be.”

According to Lampe, the experience of being an RA and skills from the job are rewarding because they are skills needed in every major.

“There have been residents that have left notes under the door,” Lampe said. “I didn’t realize how influential I would be because of my job.”