The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Applying to be an RA

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Grayson Field bulletin board

This morning I submitted my application for a position as a Resident Assistant, or RA, at UMass. The duty of an RA is to manage the residents who live in your hall and facilitate a welcoming environment that people can thrive within. I want to be an RA because during my freshmen year, I probably learned more about college and post-high school life from my RAs than anyone else. Like every other college freshman, I was extremely nervous in the first few weeks. But, my RAs helped alleviate that tension by reaching out to me and my fellow residents in a very personal manner. They’re like a friend and mentor built into one. They taught me everything from how to navigate the academic environment and study hard, to how to make friends and step out of my comfort zone. I want to give back by potentially becoming an RA myself and having my own set of residents to help.

The duties of an RA are numerous. In the beginning of the year they area tasked with preparing the halls for the arrival of residents. They may be involved with helping people move in and settle. Soon after, they hold a meeting to provide essential information and contact information. They also facilitate roommate agreements between people living together. A roommate agreement is an official document that can be referred to in the future if there is ever a disagreement over living arrangements between roommates. RAs must be on duty a few nights a week, where they monitor halls and make themselves available to anyone living in the building who may have an issue. If someone loses a key, is locked out of their room, or has another related issue, it’s the RA’s job to take care of it. Being an RA requires responsibility, organization, and time management.


The application process is not too long. Applications open in early November and you have the month to complete it. There are four short essay questions, as well as a required resume and letter of recommendation, which must be written by a faculty member at UMass. If you pass the first stage, you have an interview. And if that goes well, you’ll be accepted. The process is very competitive, as there are lots of appealing perks to being an RA. Free housing and a small salary are given to all RAs, as it is essentially a part-time (arguably full-time) job. Regardless, if the work appeals to you, I recommend talking to your RA and working hard to make a competitive application.


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