My #CSAM15 Story

I am not in student affairs. I have never worked professionally in student affairs. I have no experience on my resume in the student affairs category. I don’t know if I’ll ever work in student affairs. So, why, you may ask, am I posting about Careers in Student Affairs Month?

It’s a great question. A wonderful one, really. Sometimes I ask myself about why I call myself a student affairs professional often, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes all the time. Sometimes I have other things on my mind and I don’t think about student affairs at all.

I think about student success. I think about that more than student affairs. I think about how we define student success, how we encourage success, how we measure success, how important success is, the milestones of success, and the headlines about success.

I think about silos, too. I think about how we silo people so that they can’t share resources, goals, or expectations. I think about how those silos affect our work with students, and each other. And how we may lose people who contribute to student success because they can’t function within our silo’d structure.

I think about theories. Student development, human development, project management, and leadership theories. Theories that I learned in grad school and others I’ve picked up in the working world. I think about professionals who work with students who don’t know about theories, who don’t see the value in theories. I think about the professional development plans that don’t involve learning or basing development on theory. I think about how we don’t consider theoretical knowledge in higher ed hiring processes and I think about why we bother offering grad school programs if we don’t actually base our practices on theories.

I think about my graduate program in higher education administration. I think about the fantastic faculty who care about their students, and about the students of those students. I think about how much I learned from them and continue to learn from them via social media, conference presentations, webinars, and research papers. I think about how much that education cost me, in time and money. I think about the social contract that came with applying for a master’s program. I think about where I could be, how much I could be making, if I didn’t go to grad school. I wonder what I would think about if I didn’t have the education I do.

I am a student affairs professional. I just have a different story, job, history, and path than most people in student affairs.


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