Setting up your RHA for success

If you're working in residence life, then you're probably a pretty busy person these days. August is a time of great optimism for our profession. A new school year is just around the corner, and we are forming our groups, training our staff members and student leaders, and welcoming students back to our campuses.


This is the time to set the tone and determine vision with your student groups. This is a time for advisors to serve as an information resource and to orient new officers to their roles and responsibilities. Whether you have multiple days to set up your RHA for success before the school year starts, or you provide on-the-job training for folks at the start of the fall semester, it's important to work with intent to create a training plan that is student-focused and helps your group to find purpose.


Some good topics to focus on with your group might be:


  • Mission, vision, values

  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats

  • Teamwork

  • Work styles, personality types, inventories

  • Leadership development

  • Accountability

  • RHA & residence life - introduction to department (leaders, facilities, policies, operations), collaboration & cooperation

  • 3 Rs - relationships, responsibility & reputation

  • Task forces, committees & collaterals (as applicable)

  • Parliamentary procedure/Robert's Rules of Order

  • Programming - intentionality, learning assessment, planning

  • Marketing & public relations

  • Advocating

  • Member recruitment & development

  • Budgets, planning & spending

  • Meetings - general assembly, executive board & 1:1s

  • Role of the advisor



*Yes, that was a shameless plug for inserting MACURH & NACURH in your RHA training. No, I'm not embarrassed. Talk with your students about what MACURH & NACURH are. Introduce the entire group to opportunities within our organization for residents on your campus to get connected. Student leaders at member institutions can join task forces and committees, assist with writing bids for various awards, attend or even host a conference, submit OTMs, tap into the Resource File Index (RFI) for ideas & resources, and network with peers from other member institutions to share ideas & collaborate.


There are no doubt countless other topics that could be included in a coordinated training for your RHA. You might find that there are special topics that pertain to your institution that need to be discussed, and you might have group-specific work to be done. In addition, make time for team building and socializing. Your group will benefit from spending time getting to experience working with each other in various settings. Help them to identify projects to work on together, review your governing documents, brainstorm ideas, build the team, meet with leaders of your department and division, and work with the execs to prepare their office or work space to meet their needs. Some intentional focus at the start of the school year can propel your RHA to success.


Share your ideas, leave a comment:

What do you focus on with training your RHA? Who is responsible for the orientation of your new leaders? What advice or questions do you have for other advisors?

Need help explaining MACURH to your students? Here's a quick guide:






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