FAQ for Applying to be an RA
What are the benefits of the position?
- RAs are assigned to a single room in a residence hall (worth $10,435 for the current 2018-19 academic year)
- RAs have the ability to impact the lives of many students
- RAs have the opportunity to gain invaluable student leadership experience
I'm currently a First Year student. Can I apply?
Absolutely! Many First Years apply and are selected each year to be RAs for the following academic year.
How many students will be hired? Is there an alternate list?
The total number of applicants hired depends on the number of current RAs returning for the next academic year (there are 55 RA positions campus wide). We typically hire approximately 20-30 new RAs each year.
We will also select some candidates to be on an "alternate" list. These candidates may be tapped if a position opens up over the summer or mid-year. It is not uncommon for students to be chosen from the alternate pool each year after the initial hiring decisions are made.
Where can I be an RA?
Generally speaking, you could be an RA in any of the thirteen residence halls. The only exception is that rising-Seniors only would be selected as RAs for floor that are typically considered "Senior Housing" (ex. Sulzberger Tower and the upper floors of 620). When hiring and placing RAs, much consideration is given to the candidate's strengths and the needs of the building/population/staff/etc.
On the application, applicants may express a preference for working with FY students, transfers, or upperclass students; however, applicants are not able to request specific residence halls or floors. If an applicant is offered an RA job, it will be for a specific residence hall and floor. If the applicant does not want to accept the offered building/floor, the position would be offered to another candidate.
What is the difference between being an RA for FYF (First Year Focus) vs. in an Upperclass residence hall?
We have several populations of students on campus. While they all have things in common, each population also has a unique set of needs. As an RA, it is important to recognize the needs of your floor and be able to support your residents accordingly. Below is a brief description of FYF vs. Upperclass experiences in the residence halls and how it impacts and shapes the respective RA roles. To get an even better understanding of these populations and the RA experience, we encourage you to speak with students/RAs who are members of each population.
First Year students have a lot of energy and seek close relationships with their RA. Especially early in the year, the RA serves as one of the first resources, role models, and friends for a FY at Barnard. FY students typically enjoy coming to RA programs and often come to their RA with problems/questions, so it is important that an FYF RA keeps an open door and outlook to make their residents feel welcomed and supported. The corridor style housing and energy of FY students are conducive to creating a strong sense of community on the floor. All FY students live in the Quad (Sulz, Brooks, or Reid) and FYF RAs live among their residents, eat with them in the dining hall, and foster the community around them by working with the larger RA FYF staff.
There are several subset populations within the Upperclass areas -- Senior Experience (S|X), Transfers, etc. -- but in general upperclass students are more independent from their RAs as they have already gone through their first year of College and acclimated to Barnard (with the exception of Transfers). Upperclass students are often already campus leaders, organization heads/members, and actively settled into Barnard life. Upperclass residents may have less interaction with their RA on a daily basis than FYs, which is why it is important for upperclass RAs to be intentional and reach out to their residents. It can be more of a challenge to get upperclass students to come to programs, so RAs must assess their residents' needs and tap into their passions and interests. RAs may often be going through the same types of transitions and challenges as their residents, so it can be more of a peer relationship than working with FY students.
Can I be involved with an outside commitment (part-time job, varsity athlete, leadership position, Greek Life, etc.) in addition to being an RA?
Our expectation for RAs is that their academics come first; the RA job comes second, and any extracurricular activities and outside work comes third. We recognize that as a student leader you may wear many hats, including involvement in student organizations, internships, research, working a part-time job, etc. While we encourage our staff to be involved at Barnard and beyond, we expect our staff to be realistic with how many outside commitments they take on. Any outside commitments over 10 hours per week must be approved by our professional staff.
Can I be an RA for one semester and study abroad for the other?
For the first year as an RA you must commit to being in the position for the entire academic year (both Fall and Spring semesters). If you return to the position for a second year, you may be able to arrange a study abroad opportunity as approved by the Senior Associate Director; however, this may not be possible in all cases.
How often can I leave campus for the weekend?
While there is no hard and fast rule, it is our expectation that RAs are here for their residents, building community, and being a presence on campus. With that being said, it's healthy and expected for you to be able to take some time away from campus (including a few full weekends). You will find that your commitments to the RA position (Duty, weekend programming, community building, etc.) will keep you on campus for the majority of the weekends of each semester. It would be unrealistic for an RA to be gone every or every other weekend.
I was found responsible for a policy violation in the past. Can I still apply?
We believe that your experiences make you who you are. We have all made a bad decision from time to time. As long as you're not currently on residence hall probation, you are able to apply! Our hope is that students learn from their experience if found responsible for policy violations and make positive changes in their behavior.
What is an RA Pull-In?
Students who are hired as RAs are able to "pull-in" friends to live in their suite or on their floor (depending on where they have been placed as an RA). For example, RAs in Hewitt, Elliott, and Sulz Tower are able to pull friends in to live in rooms on their floor; RAs in FYF are able to pull in friends to live around the corner generally on the same floor of Hewitt (since only first-year students live in FYF). RAs in suite-style buildings are able to pull in friends to fill the rest of their suite. Your friends who agree to be your pull-ins would then not have to go through Room Selection to pick housing for next year. Note: this is only an option for friends would be eligible to take part in Room Selection (you cannot pull in students who are currently withdrawn from the College or living off-campus).
Will being an RA impact my Financial Aid package?
Because there are a lot of factors which can impact financial aid eligibility, we encourage all applicants to check with the Financial Aid office before accepting a position, in order to see if their aid package could be negatively affected. To schedule an appointment, please visit their website at barnard.edu/finaid to view their drop-in hours or call 212-854-2154 to schedule an appointment. Please note that there is a short amount of time between being offered the RA position and the date you need to accept/decline.
How can I better prepare for the interviews?
- Speak with current RAs to learn about their experiences.
- Set up a time to meet your Hall Director and/or Associate Director. They can share their experiences with you and encourage you to find ways to get involved in your residence hall and the Barnard community.
- Have conversations with family, friends, and past supervisors about your strengths & weaknesses. This will help you have a better understanding of your abilities.
- Beyond Barnard provides opportunities for resume building and interviewing skills. Seek them out!