For most people, resident mentor wouldn't seem like a coveted job title. Yet this year, 570 students applied to be resident mentor. Only 113 — 20 percent — got the job.
“The RM selection process is a long tedious process," said John Wise, associate director of marketing and conferences. "It starts in the fall when we start marketing for new RMs to come on board. That process ... really never stops."
The low acceptance rate shocked some students.
“I definitely feel like it was unfair. I feel like they should have told us in the beginning how many people they were going to accept,” first-year hospitality student Elizabeth Jenkins said. “That way we wouldn’t have had such high hopes and wouldn’t have been so upset when we got the results.”
Other students had a different reaction when they didn't get the job or were chosen as an alternate.
“I think they just had a certain personality in mind for each community and maybe I didn’t fit it," said first-year elementary education student Brantley Ingram. "It is what it is.”
The Eastside Team is the alternate RM program. These students will go through the same training as regular RMs, live on campus and work desk.
“I was put on the Eastside Team, which is reserve RM. I accepted the job, but my first reaction was kind of ... what'd I do wrong,” said second-year exercise science student Trent Swanson. “After that came excitement, like I can still do this and I can become an RM eventually.”
The announcement day brought finality for questions about money and housing security.
“It was nerve-wracking," Ingram said. "I kept talking to everybody, and they didn’t post the results exactly when they said they would, so everyone was freaking out.”
For Jenkins, housing was the bigger concern.
“Since we didn’t find out until February whether or not we got the position most of my friends had already signed up for housing," Jenkins said. "This left me in a very stressful position.”
The unique communities and support systems that they saw as freshmen inspired them to create the same thing for incoming freshmen.
“I wanted to become a RM because I understood how it felt to be all alone and to not have anybody on your side, helping you," said third-year psychology student Jeremy Flood, who was accepted as an RM. "I wanted to be that role figure in my community."
The same story was true for Swanson, who also wanted to implement his experience in a campus ministry.
“I wanted to apply because as a freshman I had a good community. I really want to emulate that community by being an RM and helping incoming freshmen transition as they’re coming into college," Swanson said. "I’m also in a campus ministry and thought that this would be a good way to minister to freshmen."
The interviews were a major part of the selection process. Some students prepared intensely, while others were more laid back.
“The only preparation I did was a lot of soul searching just to make sure I really wanted to do it," Flood said. "I didn’t want to apply for a job that I couldn't get my whole heart in."
Despite mixed reactions, the resident mentor program has grown tremendously at USC.
“I wouldn’t say it’s become more selective," Wise said. "I would say it’s become more prestigious. I think more and more returners are sticking on as RMs .... so there is some competition but it’s become a position students think very highly of.”