A Day in the Life of a Resident Assistant


Anyone who has ever lived in a university dorm in college is familiar with who a resident assistant is. A resident assistant is a fellow student who helps manage a hall in a dorm building whether it’s by sitting at the front desk to welcome people into the hall or holding events for students to enjoy themselves during the school year, but what else is there to know about working through college as an RA?

Hunter McElveen, a junior majoring in computer science and cybersecurity, has been an RA at the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus for almost two years. He has worked in both Commons buildings and helped out in other residence areas around campus. He was recommended the job by his older brother, who has worked as an RA at Eastern Kentucky University.

Photo Credit: Tripp Calhoun

After completing his first year at UNG and rooming under an RA he had positive experiences with, McElveen decided to apply for the job in 2020. He describes the process for attaining the job as very competitive with multiple interviews and hundreds of applicants.

“I think the first thing they were looking for was people who are personable and can connect with other people, good communication skills [and] good leadership skills,” said McElveen, “They use the phrase ‘RAs live in a fishbowl’ as that everyone around us could see what we’re doing whether we’re on campus, off campus, anywhere [and that] we should be good leaders and we should be good role models for residents or anyone involved with the university.”


Photo Credit: Sterling Hudson

Two weeks before the start of a new academic year, resident assistants arrive on campus and participate in training at a camp near Ellijay, Georgia. One of McElveen’s favorite times of the year, RAs get to know each other and do team building activities before returning to campus and decorating their assigned halls in preparation for arriving students.

Instead of having a consistent schedule of work, McElveen’s daily duties as an RA varies by week. Some days, he spends most of his time sitting in the front desk for a few hours and being on standby for any resident who needs help such as when someone gets locked out of their room or if they lose something important. On the other side, McElveen spends his time planning out events with other RAs to help entertain students and take them out of their time-consuming days of going to class or working at jobs.

One event McElveen recalls setting up was an event called “Among Us Live” based on the popular video game, where students had to go around halls to complete tasks while trying to elude the imposter. McElveen usually sets around seven hours a week to have desk duty, but also occasionally has the weekend shift where he occupies the front desk from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. one day of the weekend and then 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the next day.

Photo Credit: Tripp Calhoun

McElveen says that his work as a resident assistant improved his social life at college instead of hindering it as most of his friends are also RAs and he often hangs out with them on the job. “In some ways, it takes more time to sit in the desk or plan an event, but I also have more people to hang out with and so that kind of betters my social space here,” says McElveen.

What McElveen hopes to take away from being a resident assistant is having connections with residents and other RAs as well as experiences with communication and how to manage time and budgets, “A lot of people don’t really see [this] about being an RA, but we need to figure out how much time things take to do and how much money we need for them,” says McElveen, “That experience really going into any field or position is important.”