Debut of sophomore CAs brings smiles, more applicants

Aliza Appelbaum

More freshmen than ever are applying to become community assistants, said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director of residential life.

Last year, 22 percent of applicants to become CAs were freshmen, Koch said. This year, the number rose to 33 percent. Last year was the first year freshmen could apply to become CAs.

Undergraduate Residential Life chose to include incoming sophomores in the CA application process because they noticed a decrease in the number of applicants in past years, Koch said.

“A large part of that is due to opportunities for juniors,” she said. “Study abroad, TM, co-ops and more chances for leadership roles in the Greek system that require students to live in-house – all those things cut into our applicant pool.”

She said the sophomores have been exceeding expectations as CAs, and at least one re-applied for a higher position with more administrative responsibilities for next year.

“We’ve been very pleased with the commitment of the sophomore community assistants,” Koch said. Sophomore CAs said the experience has been rewarding.

“I get to really connect with my residents,” said Anna Xu, a McCormick sophomore. “It makes me feel good when residents come to me with problems and I can help them work through it.”

Xu said she wanted to become a CA because she was inspired by her freshman-year Resident Assistant, the former term for CA.

“My (RA) that I had as a freshman was one of the most amazing people I have ever met,” Xu said. “She really helped me get settled in college because I was a little homesick. She recommended that I apply to become a CA, and it was something I was interested in.”

Xu, a CA in McCulloch Hall, said the process should not be intimidating.

“I would definitely recommend being a CA,” Xu said. “It has been a really great experience.”

Freshmen living in Xu’s hall said having a sophomore as a CA is an advantage.

“I like having a sophomore as a CA,” Communication freshman Charity Delsie said. “When they give advice, it is almost more like a friend than an authority figure.”

Todd Johnson, a Medill sophomore, said being a CA is important because it teaches skills that are applicable to students of all ages.

“Being a CA is a chance to be responsible,” Johnson said. “I get to improve my people skills and work with people I haven’t met before. A lot of times I am coordinating between all kinds of people – students, faculty, maintenance.”

Johnson said he does not think being a younger CA is a problem, even though some of his residents in Foster-Walker Complex are upperclassmen.

“I am there to take care of the residents,” Johnson said. “If you feel that you are good at taking care of others and it is something you are genuinely interested in, the age difference won’t be a big deal at all.”

Reach Aliza Appelbaum at [email protected]