- Education and Science
The What & Why of Student Affairs in Higher Education.
What is Student Affairs?
Student Affairs is a field within Higher Education focused on the holistic development of the college student through support services. Visit any college or university within the United States and you will find offices or centers with names like: "the Center for Career and Professional Development", "Dean of Students", "Residential Life", "Academic Success Center", "Office of Student and Family Programs", "the Center for Diversity", and "Campus Activities and Events". Though there are endless ways to name these student support areas, they all have a fundamental purpose and goal. Student Affairs operates off the belief that some of the most important growth a student can experience is outside of their academics. Whether purposely or incidentally, a student will learn both in and out of the classroom environment when engaged in a higher education setting. Professionals in Student Affairs work to offer and manage variables that will make the all around learning of a student intentional. Students attend college with hopes or visions for a successful career and life, but they do not always know how to get from freshman year to that future. Student Affairs aims to assist students in navigating each step to convocation until a foundation has been set for that student to prevail in the "real world".
Students attend college with hopes or visions for a successful career and life, but they do not always know how to get from freshman year to that future. Student Affairs aims to assist students in navigating each step to convocation until a foundation has been set for that student to prevail in the "real world".
Why is Student Affairs Important?
As a Student Affairs practitioner, I am highly focused on developing the life skills that are not consistently addressed in the classroom setting. Without the development of these life skills, college students are more likely to struggle post-graduation in navigating adulthood professionally and personally. When the number of students in a lecture hall or schoolroom increases, the less personal attention, and development a professor can provide each individual student. Professors do not or cannot typically spend intentional time teaching students how to be autonomous from parental figures, job search, establish healthy physical habits and routines, develop professionally, mature interpersonal skills and relationships or resolve roommate conflicts. It is for the aforementioned issues that Student Affairs professionals exist.
Students are more than the fields they choose to focus their education in. It is a disservice to solely educate students in the academics of their specific major because there are competencies that need to be developed through guided assistance and experience. A student's time in college is an opportunity for Student Affairs professionals, departments, divisions and the entire institution to prepare well-rounded citizens who can survive up until and well after matriculation.