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Interested in a Career in Student Affairs? Check this out! With some fantastic mentors throughout my college experience who have always urged me to "pay it forward," I've decided to reflect on my transition into graduate school and beyond, and hopefully in doing so put together some experiences, resources, and areas to consider for students considering the field. What I've found most helpful is reflection and evaluation of why I'm interested in Student Affairs, what I'm looking for, and where I'm going! Hopefully the discussions and resources here will help trigger you to investigate some of your answers to these questions, or at least open up the door for the dialogue while being a space for me to talk about what my experiences were like!

56 Lessons I Learned through 56 days in Ohio

Jul.31.2010

After almost 2 months in Ohio at my NODA internship, there are a few things that I have learned from the experience, or at least entered into my own path of self discovery.  And while I debrief, and get ready for a Texas roadtrip and a new adventure to begin, my nostalgia provoked the below list of ‘Lessons Learned.’ Thank you to everyone at BW (and beyond) who made this such an amazing learning experience.

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Baldwin-Wallace College: Week Eight

Jul.27.2010

Orientation Session 2 quickly approached, and we began to prepare.  With one Orientation under my belt I felt more comfortable with the schedule and the logistics to make it work, but the nerves rose nonetheless.  Short on our ‘Leadership Team,’ I had the opportunity to take a more active role in contacting multiple departments on the status of several students to both Academic Advising & Admissions.  It was really awesome to gain some (while minor) experience in seeing the relationship that is built between these three functional areas within Student Affairs, and how they interact to gain an impression on the transition of students.  From start to finish, these three areas are able to gain an understanding of students and their personalities, and are able to troubleshoot effectively based on their experience.  The strength of this relationship seems directly related to the institutional strength of connection to incoming students, and it was reflective in my experience here.

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Baldwin-Wallace College: Week Seven

Jul.27.2010

To say the least, my blogging has been negligent recently.  The end of the summer and 2 back to back Orientations appears to be wearing on me, but I’m determined to finish out recapping my experiences, even for at a lack of timeliness.  Good thing I have some notes and a decent memory to take me through it 🙂

This week was spent both preparing for an Orientation session in the distance, realizing that they were the first ‘back-to-back’ weekend sessions that were attempted, and that the quick transition meant that things needed to be as ready as possible for the transition.

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Baldwin-Wallace College: Week Six

Jul.12.2010

A little late on posting this week, my usual post schedule altered by an Admissions event on Friday that essentially started the weekend ‘early,’ even though I didn’t actually leave the office until after 8 pm. First thought might be questioning work/life balance, but it’s hard to leave when you like the people you’re working with, especially when those ‘extra hours’ aren’t exactly spent working, but hanging out with students and ‘playing.’

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Statement of Purpose: Beyond ‘About Me’

Jul.10.2010

After getting an email from a friend at RWU interested in Student Affairs and working on developing Grad School applications, I realized that I while I’ve spoke a lot about the ‘process of graduate applications’ in Student Affairs: Farm League, I’ve never actually explained what my ‘Statement of Purpose’ was when I was entering Graduate School.  With the start of my experience only 4 weeks away, and a forum like this one to actually post it, I thought it would serve as a great reminder to me of how I got here.  I think every now and then I’ll need it, and posting I here means it’s easy for me to get at, and (hopefully) an interesting read for my audience, (whoever that may be) along with some insight on who I am and how I got her; beyond an ‘About Me’ tab. Thanks for reading!

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Baldwin-Wallace College: Week 5

Jul.2.2010

The calm after the storm.  Orientation session 1 is complete, and I had a chance to process things and reflect on my experience.  More importantly in the bigger picture, however, is that I was able to evaluate the data related to the Orientation program, look for trends, act as the voice of the students and familes, and give input to help refine the program.

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Technology & Student Contact in Student Affairs: Married or Dating?

Jul.1.2010

I was speaking casually with the Director of Student Life & Involvement today about Social Media and student contact, and while the conversation was fleeting, I was interested to how quickly we followed the logic through on what seems to be a consistent concern in Student Affairs.

When anyone in the field asked me to outline my ultimate career goals at this point in my life, I’ve often aimless drifted in describing anywhere between a Director of Student Life at a small private University, to a Dean, and even a Vice President of Student Affairs a a large public.  Needless to say, all over the place; however, what inevitably comes from this conversation is that the more ‘administrative’ your position becomes, often the more limited your student contact is.  In the field of ‘Student’ Affairs, this is often discouraging for many, hesitant to pursue advancement in the field and thus ultimately remain in the area they feel most passionate & engaged.  Point made.  Advancement in the field may reduce student contact. There are obviously outliers, but from my understanding, this seems the best blanket statement.

Next, and perhaps even more predominantly within the online communities forming in Student Affairs, is the idea that Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) are resistant to being convinced of the importance or benefits of Social Media & technology, especially in building online communities.  It is taking significantly more effort to build their interest in the networks forming then those more consistently engaged with students (based on the presumption that as you advance, you may lose student contact).

I think you may see where I’m headed.  I’m wondering where the ‘sell’ of social media is being lost for SSAOs.  Is it because those with more direct and consistent contact with Social Media feel more comfortable ‘playing on their territory?’ Maybe it’s that pros with more student contact are hearing more readily about new technology, becoming the ‘early adopters’ of the trend & technology, and once it has taken off, are already comfortable interacting?  Or even more directly, a combination; professionals working directly with students know that to be successful, they must anticipate where students will be in 2, or  3, or 5 years and know how to adapt to remain competitive from a professional developmental standpoint.  Maybe it’s none of the above or an unmentioned combination.

Worse, from conversations that I had with some SA professionals through the last few months, I’ve heard several say “What would people want to know?” My approach in answering the question has been different each time I try to respond; but none have been particularly successful.  And truthfully, it doesn’t appear that showing those great examples of SSAOs doing things well changes perspective; I can only assume that the ‘administrative logics’ side of things kicks in, realizing the change in mindset that would come with such a shift towards technology and social media.

Maybe it’s selling social not as a network or forum for professional development (at least initially) but as a shift towards increasing student ‘contact’ in non-traditional ways, engaging them in social media and technology. Connecting more directly to the pulse of campus, and explaining the benefits of being able to express a pride and interest in the lives of students as a brand, and not just as an administrator.  Reconnecting to their roots through technology- trading the paperback for the Kindle, so to speak; same information, same interaction, same purpose- different conduit.

This may be a wildly idealistic view on these trends, and in that sense, I guess all I can ask is an appreciation for my naivety.  Minimally, it appears that in the most innovative examples, this process and approach is becoming more successful.  Thankfully (from what I can tell at least), those who currently have lots of student contact and also consistently & effectively interact with online communities like Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc may soon become the SSAOs.  All I can hope is that the trend of integrating technology and the structure higher education is one that evolves with the next generation of SSAOs, and we beat the next generations of college students to the curve, proving the innovation that education & technology combined can offer, and adapting to a new type of student.

As a disclaimer, by no means to I believe I’ve found the ‘holy grail.’  There’s obviously a lot more that enters into this equation to begin to cloud the water.  But don’t leave that up to me, sound off, and let me know what you think!:

Is student contact the critical factor in determining the interest in technology in Student Affairs?  Where is the disconnect for Senior Student Affairs Officers?

Based on the conversations occurring below, it feels inappropriate not to share some of the incredible inspiration that played into not only these conclusions, but as a means to understand more of the background of what has been shared:

http://ericstoller.com/blog/2010/03/30/resources-from-our-acpa-social-media-session/

http://edcabellon.com/tech/vimikepetroff/

http://edcabellon.com/tech/socialmediaplan/

http://edcabellon.com/interests/lessons-learned-from-kenn-elmore-video-interview-recap/

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