Q – What are the top 10 things every RA should know?

Residence Life Professional Answers:

Gregg’s TOP TEN Things to Know/Remember as a Resident Assistant!
10. Make time for yourself.
9. Know the name of each resident on your floor.
8. Program based on the needs of your residents.
7. Document all incidents that occur (depression, alcohol, visitation, ect.)
for the protection of you and the school.
6. Keep your door open as much as possible, this helps build community!
5. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
4. Be positive. Try to keep smiling even when you feel like you can’t.
3. Respect your residents and they will respect you.
2. Remember F.E.R.P.A. (Confidentiality of your residents)
1. Balance school, the job, and personal life the best you can. Communicate to someone when you are struggling to accomplish balance.

Gregg Stewart
Residence Life Coordinator
University of Central Oklahoma


Here are 16 of my and one my colleague’s top “10”. tim.

1.) Remember to treat everyone one with respect
2.) Remember to meet residents on their level
3.) Perception is 90% of reality
4.) Let your residents see you as a person, just not their
5.) Study, study, study… Academics should come first
6.) Take time for yourself. Maintain relationships out of
your building and off campus
7.) Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your
8.) Be intentional in purposeful in what you do.
9.) Working as a team with your fellow staff members is
they key to success and your existence
10.) Remember to enjoy the experience. I will be one of
the most rewarding you will have.
11.) You will learn more that you think.
12.) Your supervisor is the best resource you have.
13.) There’s no substitute for a good attitude.
14.) Freshmen mess-up and that’s ok.
15.) Tough situations are an excellent time for learning.
16.) You have one of the most important jobs on campus

Tim Stockton
Assistant Director for Selection and Training
Indiana University

In response to your question about the top 10 things every RA should know, here are my thoughts…(these aren’t in a specific order…just the 10 things I think are very important)

1. Get to know your staff – you don’t have to know all intimate details…but know what each others strengths are and draw upon those strengths.

2. Remember you have back-up (other RAs, RDs, etc) – never go into a questionable circumstance without back-up. Be safe and know there are other people you can count on for support.

3. Get to know your residents – this will not only help out in community buildling, but will help you assess problems that might arise. Also, different residents respond to different things…knowing them will help you best know how to communicate with and interact with them individually and as a group.

4. Set limits with your residents – be honest with your residents about your needs, let them know when you will be around and that it’s not always OK to knock at all hours of the night! 😉

5. Take personal time when you need it – we all need to recharge…it’s important that we all do this so we don’t burn out.

6. Ask yourself how you would deal with ethical dilemmas – think about how you would deal with those questionable circumstances before they arise. Examples…if you’re out drinking, what would you do if residents came in? What if you are underage? Do your off campus actions affect your on campus position? Should RAs date residents? Talk about these things before hand.

7. Know your biases up front – think about the types of people and situations you have biases toward and realize you may have to deal with them in your position. Think about how you will be able to work through them if you come across them. It’s acceptable to have biases, but you need to act professionally and not let them rule your life.

8. Realize your supervisor is human – RDs, ADs, RHDs…are all good people, but they do make mistakes and may not always know the answer. They also need time to recharge, just like you. Help them out when they need it.

9. Program for the needs of your residents – if you’re frustrated because you don’t get hundreds of people at programs, maybe you’re not programming for the right population. Asking residents what they want and recognizing that fact might be a better way to go…not to mention they might help you organize if they’re doing things they want to do! Delegation is a good thing!! 😉

10. Don’t try to live up to what other people are doing – everyone has their own style in the RA position, as well as has very different personalities they’re working with. “Keeping up with the Joneses” can be a good thing…but know that not everything one person does is going to work for you or with your population. Put your personality in the position. Hopefully this will keep you sane and energized.

Best of luck! I hope this is the kind of information you’re looking for.

Steve Crudup
Resident Director, O’Connor Hall
Dickinson Community
Binghamton University

The top ten things that I would want my RAs to know and remember are:

1. Know your resident’s names
2. Know the school’s policies
3. You are a role model – you are being watched by your residents
4. Be consistent
5. Have fun
6. Failing to confront a situation is giving silent consent
7. Operate from a position of genuine caring. Ask yourself: “What would
love do?”
8. Change happens over time: Light small fires and look for small victories
9. Keep yourself balanced and healthy
10. Remember you are a student first, an RA second.

Trey Reckling
Resident Director
Savannah College of Art & Design


The top 11 things that I believe an RA should know are:

Your supervisor’s phone number,campus police # and univ. info #.
Be consistent: people in crisis seek help from people they trust.
The RA job can be the best job of your life.
The mistakes that you own up to are the ones you learn from.
Your staff is there to support you.
There are no stupid questions: asking questions is how people learn.
Your students are growing and develping, just like you.
Perfection is unrealistic.
Developing community takes time–it won’t happen after 1 or 2 programs
Ambiguity is a part of the job.
Confidentiality builds trust and complies with the law–even though it may be frustrating.

Holly Habicht,
Residence Life Coordinator Georgia Tech

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