Editor’s Note: Kaukauna native Halle VanHandel is one of three people sharing her experiences about paying for college as part of the
Degrees of Debt series. Look for her writings twice a month.
I’m applying to be a Resident Assistant next year for several reasons.
First, the most obvious benefit to becoming an RA is the salary. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my RA salary would cover my room and board fee in full. Considering housing is approximately 35 percent of my college expenses, the RA salary is another opportunity to alleviate a portion of that seemingly ever-present financial burden.
However, the money is not the sole benefit of becoming an RA. The job pays well, and rightfully so, as the position demands much responsibility. But being an RA also nurtures leadership qualities.
My brother is presently an RA at Concordia, and he has explained his training, duties and responsibilities to me. At Concordia, it is mandatory that all RAs move in early and spend three weeks preparing for their duties in an intense training program. They are taught how to recognize situations of risk and how to navigate them with assertive diplomacy.
RAs learn the importance of collaboration and strong interpersonal skills, how to accommodate the needs of various personalities and lifestyle preferences, and much more.
The best part about the kind of learning required for RAs is how it applies to the “real world.” The training and duties RAs have prepares them for situations of all kinds — especially those to come in future work environments.
In addition, because of the qualities the RA position nurtures, being an RA is a great resume-builder. Employers recognize the value of sound leadership and communication skills— both of which are learned from the RA experience.
Furthermore, the RA application, interview and selection processes are extensive and much akin to “real world” hiring processes. The RA hiring experience alone is valuable for students who are preparing to launch themselves into the job hunting process.
I want to be an RA because, compared to the alternative on-campus job opportunities I have researched, it is the most valuable in terms of monetary and personal gains. Aside from the money, I have only touched on a few of the intangible benefits — there are so many more!
If I am not hired as an RA, I do have a backup plan. If I don’t get the job, I will most likely apply to work at the Concordia Art Gallery. Although it doesn’t pay as much as the RA position, working at the gallery comes with flexible hours and a relaxed work environment — a perfect fit for a full-time student.
Nonetheless, I am crossing my fingers that I am selected to be an RA, so I can simultaneously lessen my financial burdens, acquire applicable lifelong skills and nurture valuable qualities.
Until next time,
Catch up on Halle’s blog posts here.