Top 10 RA Myths

Common misconceptions about the RA position at UNC

In asking potential applicants about the RA position the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a number of interesting concerns, provoking thoughts, and outright untruths. In today’s Top 10, I’ll attempt my best Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman impression to bust all the myths surrounding the RA position and application process.

Myth #1: All you do is bust parties or “police” the halls. “Sssshhh the RA is coming!” While we’ve all heard someone utter this phrase a time or two, it’s really not necessary. Certainly RAs have the duty to maintain a safe and welcoming living environment, but they aren’t assigned to hang out by your door and listen to find out what friends you’re having over for the game or what your weekend plans are. RAs want to keep the hall safe and fun, but the last thing they want to be is a paid security guard.

Myth #2: You can’t apply to be an RA if you are a first-year student now. I remember when I was a first-year I was constantly looking for new ways to get involved and make an impact on campus. Well, applying to be an RA is a great way to get involved at UNC. Being an RA your second year on campus will allow you to learn more about yourself, your community and the University as a whole. So, not only is being an RA your sophomore year possible, but it’s also a great way to make an impact early on in your time at UNC.

Cobb RA Staff 2012-2013
The RA job is demanding but leaves plenty of time for friends.

Myth #3: You can’t be an RA if you transfer to UNC from another school.  So often I hear transfer students say they don’t know enough about UNC or the students to be an RA.  However, just like with first-years, applying to be an RA is one of the best ways that transfers can immerse themselves in UNC. Being an RA allows transfers to build upon their initial experiences at UNC and leave their HEELprint in a way that they may not otherwise have.

Myth #4: The RA job is too demanding. I won’t be able to handle the job on top of my classes. The two biggest struggles for me academically at UNC have been time management and finding an escape from the stress of constant work and studying. Being an RA allows you to learn invaluable time management skills that will help you not only balance your work and social time, but will also help you succeed in class. Being a part of your hall and community also gives you an escape or break from the stress of midterms or long papers. Whenever you’re feeling overworked, you can take a relaxing break to chat with residents.

Myth #5: You can’t be an RA if you join a Greek organization. Being an RA is not only possible for Greeks but is also a fantastic way for members of Greek organizations to represent their fraternity or sorority on campus. What could be a better way to represent yourself and your organization than to be a leader and a resource for a whole hall of young first-years or sophomores? Community directors and the rest of your community staff will be willing to work with you so that you can balance being an RA with your other time commitments such as being part of a Greek organization.

Olde Campus Lower Quad Fest-o-Fall 2012
Hanging out with people is official RA work! Photo by Phillip Ramautar, UNC Class of 2013.

Myth #6: RAs can’t get involved or be leaders in other things on campus.  RAs are some of the most involved people that I know on campus. RAs across this campus are presidents of clubs, Greek leaders, student congress representatives, artists, and have a plethora of other passions outside of being RAs. According to Devin Walker, an RA in Hinton James, being an RA has actually increased the amount of extracurricular activities he is involved in, because the RA position is so flexible. He’s able to schedule his RA duties around other meetings and the tutoring sessions he participates in.

Myth #7: The RA role is not a leadership role, because RAs are compensated.  This is one of the most confusing myths I found. Just because RAs are paid for their work does not mean that they are not leaders. The majority of RAs go way beyond what is required for them to get paid and do the job, because they truly want to see their residents and communities succeed. The RA position is a well-respected one around this campus, and will allow people to see the leadership potential that you have.

Myth #8: You have to be really outgoing.  On UNC’s campus, every residence hall, floor, and person has a different personality. RAs are no different.  RAs across campus use their unique personality to be effective at their jobs whether they are on or off duty. As I covered in another post, RA, Your Way!, being an RA is all about building your personality

HJ 2012 LDOC Celebration
Each RA brings a unique personality to the role.

Myth #9: Being an RA won’t help me get a job, because it’s not in my field of study/career interests. Talk about a resume builder—being an RA will not only give a great job to put on your resume, but it will also give you so many experiences to share with employers in interviews. Those classic interview questions like, “Tell me about a time you had to think quick on your feet” or “Describe a time when you did something particularly innovative” will be so easy to answer after the RA experience. Not to mention how being an RA helps you build upon the top skills that employers seek such as teamwork and communication.

Myth #10: RAs are on duty all the time, and they can’t leave to have fun with their friends. This was a funny myth to me, because some of my most fun and enjoyable friends are RAs. RAs aren’t on duty all of the time; actually, when they are off duty, they find that they value time with friends more than they ever did before. Not to mention, being an RA helps you create new connections with numerous different people such as residents, other RAs, Housing staff and community government members. Odds are, someone you meet as an RA will be worth hanging out with while off duty. So not only does being an RA not take away from the time you currently spend with your friends, it also gives you the opportunity to make more friends!


Have any more questions, concerns, or myths you’d like me to bust?  If so, leaves us a comment.

If not, what are you waiting for? Apply to be an RA, today!

2 thoughts on “Top 10 RA Myths”

  1. In accordance with UNC-CH’s gender-sensitive language policy, publications associated with the university are expected to avoid using sexist language. This includes using “representative” in place of “student congressman”. Using “men” in reference to all members of student congress marginalizes women, who comprise more than the majority of UNC-CH students.

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