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The highs and lows of being a Resident Advisor

By Kim 14 Apr 2019
Residential Advisor smiling and holding stuffed animal.

When I was living on-college at USQ, I worked as a Resident Advisor (RA) at Steele Rudd College, one of the three Residential Colleges at USQ’s Toowoomba campus. I’ve often been asked what it was like. Before I launch into the awesome experiences and challenges I faced during my time on the job, let me explain (briefly) the role of an RA.

What is a Residential Advisor?

An RA is a College resident and a student who is trained to help other residents with academic, social and welfare issues they may experience while living on College. There is always an RA ‘on duty’ outside of business hours at each of the three USQ Colleges to assist residents with things such as lock-outs, safety or security and maintenance issues, first aid and the hiring of vacuum cleaners. It’s a diverse, exciting and challenging role and no two days were ever the same. 

Super man style pose ripping back shirt to reveal the letters 'RA'

The rewards of being an RA

For me, being an RA was rewarding because I got to help people, something I have always enjoyed doing. I watched first year students grow from being shy and unsure in the College environment, to being an essential and vibrant member of the College community. I got to smile with and celebrate the big and small achievements of College residents as they moved through their university journey. And it always brought a smile to my face (and made me feel like a bit of a superhero) when a resident came up to me with a simple ‘thank you for your support’ or ‘thank you for being there for me when no one else was’. 

As an RA, I even got to plan events for the residents of my block to help foster friendships and create some fun and stress relief in to the chaos that is uni. #winning! I love organising events! Movie nights and block BBQs were always popular, because who doesn’t love free food?!

The challenges of the role

Being an RA can also be challenging. Sometimes I felt like other residents thought of me as the ‘fun police’ for asking them to turn the music down during quiet hours when other residents were trying to study or sleep. And, occasionally, my friends would shake their heads at me for asking ‘are you sure that is a good idea?’ when they’d talk about their plans to prank another friend. It wasn’t always easy to balance the responsibility of the role with my own experiences as a current student.

The Hulk saying: respect quiet hours because you won't like me when I'm angry!

Some nights the phone would ring for a lock-out or noise complaint at 3am when I had been up until 1am trying to complete assessment I knew I shouldn’t have left to the last minute. And very rarely, it would feel like I’d gotten no sleep at all.

Fry from Futurama saying 'Not sure if I should sleep or drink more coffee'

Occasionally I found myself helping residents through stressful times while also stressing out about uni myself. But all in all, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Being an RA has been one of the best experiences of my life. The skills I have learned along the way outweigh the occasional night of sleep deprivation by a mile. I have had the opportunity to make friends with people I never thought I would make friends with. Seeing residents overcome the hurdles they face and succeeding on their path to fulfilling their dreams is possibly the best thing I have ever witnessed. I’ve certainly never regretted my decision to apply.

If you have ever thought about applying to be an RA, my advice is to go for it. The College team are fantastic, the residents are great and the whole experience is an awesome opportunity to grow your leadership skills and make the most of your time on college.

Don’t miss out on your chance to be an RA. Speak to the Residential Colleges team about applying for the position today!

Author profile image of Kim