A Resident Adviser (also spelled Advisor) or RA is a student charged with supervising students living in a set of rooms in a residence hall. RAs get free housing to do this.
RAs at Columbia are a mixed bag. Some are awesome, others are highly questionable choices for the position. Some RAs have suggested that Residential Programs actually hires unqualified candidates with the reasoning that the position will "help them grow."
RA duties include:
- sorting out Room Condition Reports
- fighting the noble war on drugs, tobacco, and in first year dorms, alcohol (or looking the other way and generally not caring much about it at all)
- being in charge of the vacuum cleaner
- work with the CA for area-wide programs
- create floor programming
How to apply to be an RA
If you want to be an RA, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Current full-time first-year, sophomore, or Junior CC or SEAS students.
- Have guaranteed housing.
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and be in good academic and behavioral standing.
- Creative and energetic students who are strong team players and good listeners.
NB: Until 2007-2008, Columbia RAs had to be juniors or seniors. The Office of Residential Programs began considering freshmen to serve as RAs during their sophomore year for the first time in 2006-2007. Barnard ResLife had initiated the practice years in advance.
If you meet the requirements, the application process is as follows:
- Attend a mandatory RA information session. These typically take place in mid-November and outline the RA job description and requirements.
- Submit an application. Past applications have included general information and three short-response essays.
- Attend the RA fair. The fair allows job candidates to ask questions of current residential life staff and learn about the different RA areas (The Block, Southfield, the LLC, East Campus, and West Campus).
- Take part in the RA interview date. There are four phases of interview date:
- A group discussion, where three hypothetical scenarios are given out and candidates must discuss possible solutions to the issues.
- A group exercise, where candidates must work together to complete an assigned activity.
- An individual interview, where residential life staff ask the candidates questions and perform a role-play scenario.
- A post-interview reflection, where applicants can indicate any personal feelings of strengths and shortcomings during the interview process.
It's advisable to talk to current RAs to get tips re application. They have great advice on everything from the application process to where you might want to work as an RA.