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My Experience as an Residential College Adviser (RCA)

December 9, 2020
Richard Ma

One of the first people I met at Princeton was my Residential College Adviser, or RCA. Every first-year student belongs to a “zee group” of 15 or so other first years, living together in one area of their residential college with an upperclassman RCA who is there to help with any challenges or questions they might have. RCAs are the first resource for first years and do everything from hosting study breaks to mediating conflicts. I formed a really great connection with my own RCA and knew pretty early on that being an RCA was something I also wanted to do.

The application process can be pretty competitive, so I was thrilled when I learned I’d made it! I imagined all the different study breaks I wanted to do, from painting to getting sushi to playing bubble soccer. I was excited to be part of Clash of the Colleges, a yearly orientation event between each residential college where first years competed in fun games. And of course, I was happy that I’d be living in Forbes College again as an upperclassman. 

But as you know, this year has changed all of that. When we all went virtual, I was worried about meeting my zees online and doing everything through Zoom. I was incredibly disappointed and stressed about what the semester would look like. 

Fortunately, things turned out okay. I’ve been able to hold weekly study breaks online where my zees can come by to talk and play games, and I’ve organized some events with my fellow RCAs so our zees can get to know more people. I still meet with them one on one, maybe not in Starbucks as I pictured, but the sentiment is still there. I always wanted to be an RCA to be there for my zee group, and I can still do that.

As we look to be on campus in the spring per the University’s recent announcement, I’m cautiously optimistic and excited. I’ll be living in Forbes as I originally envisioned, and I’ll meet my zees for the first time. While large gatherings aren’t possible right now, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to meet with them one on one, and truly welcome them to our Princeton home.