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Act Now to Save Up to 42% on College Expenses Next Fall

Act Now to Save Up to 42% on College Expenses Next Fall

According to data collected by The College Board for the 2014-15 school year, the average cost of room and board ranges from $9,804 at four-year public colleges and universities to $11,188 at private ones. With total expenses at in-state public institutions averaging $18,943 and those at private schools hovering around $42,419, that means room and board can take up anywhere from 26% to 52% of your total education budget. Ouch! How would you like to hang on to all 98 (or 111) of those “Benjamins” and possibly even line your pockets with more?

If you currently live in a dorm, you may be aware that “Res Life,” or whatever your school calls its student housing organization, is now, or will soon, begin accepting applications for 2015-16 Resident Advisor, or “RA” (aka, Resident Assistant), positions. Perhaps you’ve noticed flyers to this effect on your residence hall’s community bulletin board or other random spots around the hall. Have you ever thought about applying? At most schools, deadlines to apply for the upcoming fall are fast approaching, so now is the time to decide if it would behoove you to pursue this career-building opportunity.

Sure, life as an RA is not for everyone. It is, after all, a JOB. And, as with all jobs, there are some trade-offs involved. You will encounter aggravations from time to time and you will have to make a few minor sacrifices in order to do your job well. Of course, I’m talking about “minor” in the big picture sense. Your assessment of how major or minor the sacrifices actually are will depend on your individual priorities and sensibilities. For instance, if your sole ambition in attending college is to go out and party as often as humanly possible, the typical RA schedule will probably cramp your style in a major way. Or, if you’re easily irritated by people seeking you out for various problem solving tasks, ranging from a freshman who’s never done his own laundry needing you to show him how to start up the washing machine to mediating roommate squabbles, you might perceive such tasks as a major waste of your time. But, if you’re a relatively mature and responsible person, and you enjoy working with people, you might find the perks, or pros, of serving as an RA far outweigh the cons.

Perk #1: Money . . . and Stuff! The most significant benefit of being an RA is, of course, the free room and board. Did I mention that RAs save nearly $10,000 a year or more on college expenses? That’s, essentially, depending on how you’re paying to get through school, money you get to keep (or spend, as the case may be). In other words, if you RA’d for three years, you could end up with roughly $30,000 less in student loan debt. Or, if you’re blessed enough to have scholarships and/or grants to pay your college bills you could see up to $5000 dropped into your bank account around the beginning of each semester. If you are paying totally out of pocket and working to pay your own way through college, that’s 1379+ hours you don’t have to spend each year flipping burgers or performing some other menial tasks earning minimum wage.

Some schools even provide a paycheck, in addition to the free room, for hours you spend working the front desk (checking in guests, answering phones, filling out paperwork, and other receptionist-type duties), with premium pay for working the occasional holiday and/or break, if necessary. Many RAs also enjoy free meal plans, unlimited access to free snacks and drinks and even receive a stipend for other expenses.

Perk #2: More Opportunities for Privacy & Productivity What could be better than a free room with plenty of amenities? How ‘bout a private (read, NO ROOMMATES) room, usually relatively large and with its own bathroom, all to yourself? Gone will be the days of putting up with roommates’ erratic schedules (and, in some cases, behavior) and scrambling to find a quiet place on campus to do school work. As an RA you will have unfettered access to your own private and virtually distraction-free space in which you can study and can spread out however and whenever you like in order to work on class projects.

Furthermore, unlike your peers who have to slave over a hot, greasy grill for 4-8 hour stretches, many of your “on-duty” hours (i.e., time you are assigned to sit at the front desk) can be spent doing homework.

Perk #3: First Dibs on the Good Parking Spots & Classes In many cases, RAs get to park in their own designated spaces near their residence hall and around other choice spots on campus. Some even get to do so for free. Surely, those of you at large universities who’ve ever had to park, literally, miles away from your dorms and lecture halls will appreciate that one!

Whether your campus is large or small, this next RA perk might seal the deal and send your fingers flying to your school’s Res Life website to apply. Often, to facilitate efficient residence hall staffing, students who serve as RAs are allowed to take advantage of “priority scheduling.” This means, even if you’re not an upperclassman, you get to bypass the seniority-based scheduling common to most universities and can schedule your classes earlier than everyone else on campus. No more nail-biting days on the wait-list for that class you have to have in order to graduate on time. Can I get a “Hallelujah!” from all the future RAs out there?

Perk #4: It’s Great for Your Resume (and your life, in general) Last, but most certainly not least, as an RA, you will gain priceless work and life experience that will serve you well in your future career and in your interpersonal relationships. Every employer wants to hire individuals with good leadership, organization, planning, time management, communication, and conflict resolution skills. Not to mention, people in general appreciate and love being around those with such abilities.

As an RA, you will have endless opportunities to develop all those important and highly transferable skills. So, when intervening with the drama in Room 232 for the umpteenth time stretches your patience so far you think it might break, take heart and remember those crazy kids are helping you to build a stellar resume. When the schedule demands of RA life feel like way too much to juggle, hang in there; you’re learning how to manage time like a boss—perhaps even a CEO.

It’s true, the life of a resident advisor is not for the faint of heart. It requires a level of commitment and responsibility that, frankly, not all young people can handle. But, for the rest of you, I highly recommend it. It will likely be among the most valuable experiences of your youth.

Sources: The College Board,, Houston Chronicle, University of Kentucky

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Friday, 18 September 2020

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