As a student at Penn State, you have the opportunity to meet a lot of fun and interesting people. During your freshman year, and possibly during your entire time at Penn State, you have the opportunity to live in the residence halls on campus.
Without the dedication and assistance from the Resident Assistants (RA) that live in the residence halls, living in the halls could be overwhelming and a little crazy.
When I transitioned to University Park, I met Katie Kappel, a junior public relations student. Katie is also one of my fellow College of Communications Student Council Executive Board members.
She has gladly allowed me to interview her about her experience as an RA. Katie has also provided advice and links for any prospective student that is interested in becoming an RA once they arrive at Penn State.
How long you’ve been an RA:
My first semester as an RA was Spring 2014. Since then I’ve been an RA for Summer 2014 and this entire academic year.
Which residence hall(s) do you assist in?
I’m the RA for the 10th floor of Pinchot Hall in East.
Why did you want to become an RA?
My parents were both RAs at Bloomsburg University, so it was always on my radar. I love Penn State and for me one of the best ways to show my Penn State Pride is to share it with each incoming class. I want to help first-year students get the most out of their first year at the greatest university in the world.
From an RA’s prospective, what advice would you give to incoming freshmen at Penn State?
My best advice to incoming first-year students is to keep your door open as much as possible during your first few weeks. That’s the best way to get to know people on your floor… and your RA! Also, anything you might be worried about or have questions about…you’re not the only one! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What is your job description?
As an RA I live on a floor with, in my case, 30 co-ed first-year students. It is my responsibility to foster a safe and supportive community for my residents. I view myself as a friend and mentor to my residents. I plan activities for them to get to know each other and campus in a variety of ways. I also enforce residence hall policies and mediate conflicts when necessary, but that is only a small part of my life as an RA. My favorite part of the job is being a resource to students about all things Penn State!
If prospective students wish to become an RA, what process must they go through to do so?
The first step is to attend an information session. There are multiple session held during both fall and spring semesters. Just look for posters advertising them in the residence halls and commons. Following the info session there is an application and interview process. To apply you must have at least 12 Penn State credits, a 2.40 GPA and be in good conduct standing with the university. Candidates are then selected from that process to take HI ED 302 (The Role of the Resident Assistant: Theory and Practice). This three credit course is an overview of all the roles of an RA. If you get a B in the class and a recommendation from your instructor, you will be eligible for pick up!
What has been your toughest obstacle to overcome as an RA?
My toughest obstacle was adjusting to the position during my first semester as an RA. Starting as an RA in the spring was a unique challenge because I came into an already established community of residents. Also, I had never lived in East before, so I had to adjust to a totally new environment. That first semester was difficult at times, especially balancing my new RA position with the other organizations I’m involved in (THON and the College of Communications Student Council). But I wouldn’t change a thing and I am thankful for those challenges.
Best memory as an RA:
It’s honestly too hard to pick just one. My favorites include whenever I’m able to help one of my residents, or when one of my previous residents sees me around campus and says hello!
What are the perks of being an RA?
There are so many personal and professional perks of being an RA! I’ve met so many amazing people as an RA and I am very thankful for the mentors and friends I have gained because of it. Also, there are skills that I’ve learned as an RA that are transferable into the workplace, such as conflict mediation and time management. It’s a great leadership position to talk about during job interviews.
Katie has provided links for prospective students interested in becoming an RA below.
So do you want to be an RA? It sounds like a pretty rewarding and fun experience!
For the Glory…