Princeton’s residential colleges offer many resources to their students, but none are quite as influential as the Residential College Adviser, or RCA. All undergraduates, regardless of major or extracurricular interests, are assigned to an advisee (zee, for short) group headed by an upperclassman RCA to guide them through freshman year both academically and socially. Sometimes, RCAs even help sophomores and other upperclassmen as well! In any case, RCAs do whatever it takes to help their students adjust to campus life, whether it’s directing them to educational resources or hosting fun study break events to relax with. Their goal is to foster a safe, inclusive community in their residential colleges and guide their zees’ personal development. For many people, their RCA becomes not just a close mentor, but a good friend as well.
But have you ever wondered what being an RCA is really like? For Forbes RCA Riley Martinez ‘23, it is all about making connections with the undergraduate community at Princeton. “I really enjoy interacting with and learning from underclassmen,” says Martinez. “They teach me as much as I hopefully teach them, and I see a lot of myself in my zees. I was stressed about the same things that seem so small now, but I get to share my perspectives and how it sounds so passing now, so I know they’ll get through this.” In addition to offering insight as an upperclassman, Martinez has hosted study breaks such as game nights playing “Heads Up,” trips out to Fruity Yogurt, and even a long, multi-hour walk with his zees over fall break. He has about a dozen zees and is “very grateful to have freshmen to talk and laugh with.”
As an RCA, you will also make meaningful connections outside of your zee group. RCAs often interact with university staff such as their residential college’s Director of Student Life (DSL) and Director of Studies (DOS), but they can also become close with other underclassmen and RCAs by just living in the same dorm. The residential college they work in really becomes a home away from home and grounds them even more solidly in the Princeton community.
If this sounds interesting to you, consider applying to be an RCA! Applications open following fall break each year, with the 2021 deadline being November 30th at 12 PM EST. Information sessions are hosted throughout the month for students to learn more about the RCA role and gain access to the application. If you need more convincing, Martinez has some words of encouragement for you. “Honestly, there’s like no downsides to being an RCA. This job is very fun, engaging, supportive, and well structured. Everything that is a responsibility -- like throwing study breaks -- doesn’t feel like work, it’s fun! So be ready to commit yourself, but it’s a fun commitment.”