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Do Your Homework


Yes, the childhood edict comes back to haunt you again.  The process of the Student Affairs grad search is twofold; set yourself up so you have the choices that will make you happiest in the long run (succeed in the present), and be aware and prepared for the ever-changing world that you’re about to enter.

Of course, this is grossly minimizing how hard the process is, especially since you’re likely involved in all kinds of other things; your programming board, maybe residence life or your wellness affiliates on campus, orientation, or maybe working with other areas of student affairs in a workstudy capacity.  In any case, the most important way to plan for your future is to succeed in the present; especially when it comes to graduate school.  Having gone through a majority of the process I can tell you that the best advice that I got in my undergrad was to ‘be intentional.’  I looked at what programs were looking for early on, and I did my best to deliver.  And never just meet expectations (for yourself or anyone else, inside or outside of your graduate pursuits) do your best to exceed them.  At the end of the day, that is what is going to set you apart.

Your resume is full, you’ve narrowed down your school list, and you’ve been on the Dean’s List since your entered college. Now what?

Well, in this case, you’ve likely done everything that you can; once you send the information out, it’s all about the waiting game.  But what you can do (mostly for your sanity) is to begin thinking like the professionals.  Start looking into the research that exists on topics that matter to you, and start preparing yourself for the *fingers crossed* interviews that await you after your acceptance letters.  Narrow down what’s important to you, and what you’d might like to study once given the opportunity.

The moral of the story?  In every stage of the process of working your way into student affairs, do your homework. You’ll need the piece of mind that you did everything you could, and quite frankly, probably the reinforcement that you’re passionate enough to truly succeed in a field of constant changes and demands.

I can honestly say that in the process, this has been the only thing that is keeping me sane; building my personal brand online as a Student Affairs professional, and trying to network with other professionals for both opportunities and support! Without these resources, and continuing to prepare for the next step, when you devote so much time and effort towards a goal and feel “stuck” in the waiting game, you may feel like you’re using losing focus.  Believe me, it’s no picnic.  But a combination of patience, confidence, and the support from the Student Affairs professionals that have reinforced your interest in the field in the first place will get you through.  That’s what I’m counting on 🙂

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