RA Applications on the Rise

Laura Westerhold

Applications for residential advisor (RA) positions seem to be experiencing a dramatic rise in number this year. As of last Monday, almost sixty people had started the application process online. The Residential Life committee is hopeful that all of those turn into completed applications.

On the Colgate website, the RA position is described as “one of the most critical and influential in implementation and expansion of the Colgate Vision for Residential Education.”

The application process includes three phases. The first is the submission of an electronic application information sheet, a cover letter and a résumé. This step is followed by two different interviews. The first is a dinner interview at the Colgate Inn with current staff and members of the Dean’s staff. The second is an individual interview with two current staff members and one professional staff member.

Applicants are expected to meet basic criteria for GPA and conduct, although applicants with conduct infractions have been accepted. When considering a student with a previous conduct violation, the staff first reflects on how long ago the incident was and how extreme it was. Then, they discuss it with the candidate and ask what the candidate may have learned from that experience.

When asked why she thinks so many people are drawn to the position, Director of Residential Life and Assistant Dean of the College for Residential Education Jennifer Adams said, “We’ve never really done an official survey with data that tells us exactly what draws people to be an RA. But, I would suspect that it’s because of our current staff. They’re really good.”

Adams said that it is possible students are drawn to the position for its positive nature. “We’ve changed a lot in four years,” she said.

ResLife has deemphasized the RA’s rule-enforcer role and emphasized the role as community organizer and facilitator. Additionally, the entire application interview process is shaped to target a greater variety of people, which is different than previous years. In fact, Colgate’s process is so unique that other schools have begun to look toward this process. Instead of a strong emphasis on group activities geared more toward extroverts, the process is now much more reflective. This invites many more students who may not think the position is for them.

“We really think that it’s just as important for us to find the candidates as it is for the candidates to know before they finish the process whether it’s for them,” Adams said.

Once accepted, the students are given their assignments based on serious consideration and analysis. The staff determines where they will place students by considering who will suit the variety of needs encountered in each dorm building and housing arrangement. For example, sophomores do not have the same transitional needs as first-years. Then, they consider the structure of a team within a single building to ensure a variety of personalities.

Applications are due Thursday, February 14, at which point the interview process will begin.