With Student Affairs being comprised of a multitude of diverse roles, providing a one-size-fits-all account of how the pros go about their day is simply not realistic, or even possible for that matter. With that said, there are a few day-in-the-life articles floating around the web that focus on specific positions in Student Affairs, all of which contain some common elements and useful pieces of advice. Here’s what we know to be true:
There is no such thing as a “typical day”. Each morning, Student Affairs Professionals at all levels know that they won’t be in for a repeat of the day prior or a preview of the days ahead. Instead, they expect the unexpected and tackle whatever complex and unique tasks arise. Needless to say, flexibility and adaptability are two must-haves in this field.
Organization ensures survival. SAPros are known to develop their own organizational methods, which allow them to complete necessary tasks and accomplish professional goals, even in the midst of hectic schedules. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good to-do list or shared calendar.
High-Tech. High-Touch. Repeat. Meeting students where they are requires connecting with them directly, as well as working with staff and faculty to implement and improve campus programs. Overflowing email inboxes and bustling social media pages are just the tip of the iceberg, as SAPros serve as points of contact, as well as sources of leadership and support, on campus. Effective use of technology assists SAPros in eliminating barriers of time and location as they spend their days coordinating, collaborating, advising, and so forth.
Down-time is both productive and necessary. It’s no secret that Student Affairs Professionals make a career out of devoting their time and energy to the engagement and success of their students. However, in order to have a true impact, they must make their own well-being a priority. Whether in the form of scheduled breaks throughout the day, or an active social life outside of the office, “me” time is an effective safeguard against burnout.
It all comes down to one word: Passion. With working hours that extend far beyond the standard 9-5, and days characterized by unpredictability and competing demands, a career in Student Affairs is driven by genuine passion for the work. Something Student Affairs Professionals share is a desire to not only be part of, but to lead, innovation in higher education, and to facilitate the success and engagement of each individual student.