OLDCareers in Student Affairs
What is Student Affairs?
If you are interested in an exciting career helping college students, student affairs may be for you! Student affairs professionals work in a variety of settings on college campuses serving students. They work in admissions, residence life, career services, student activities, and financial aid just to mention a few.
Why Student Affairs?
Student affairs professionals provide services and develop programs that affect all aspects of students' lives inside and outside the classroom. Some of the things they aim to do include:
improve the quality of campus life
- enhance student learning
- attract and retain qualified students
- provide students with satisfactory housing, health services, and recreational facilities
- coordinate student activities
- manage financial aid programs
- help students make career decisions
- meet the needs of commuter and nontraditional students
Places to Start
Here are a few links to help introduce you to the field of Student Affairs:
- Student Affairs.Com - Links to just about every site on the Internet that has anything to do with Student Affairs.
- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education - NASPA - "NASPA provides professional development, promotes exemplary practices, and is a leader in policy development. NASPA helps senior student affairs officers and administrators, student affairs professionals, faculty, and other educators enhance student learning and development. NASPA promotes quality and high expectations; advocates for students; encourages diversity; and excels in research and publication."
- College Student Educators International - "ACPA supports and fosters college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices and programs for student affairs professionals and the higher education community."
- Considering a Career in Student Affairs - This article from the ACPA website gives a great overview of the field.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education - Published weekly, The Chronicle is the number one news source for college and university faculty members and administrators.
The Benefits of a Career in Student Affairs
There are countless benefits that Student Affairs professionals enjoy. These include:
- Make a difference in students' lives
- A wide range of career choices and jobs
- An exciting work environment that offers new challenges
- Access to the profession through a wide range and large number of entry-level positions
- Many national and regional professional organizations offer support and involvement
- Potential for quick advancement
- Fringe benefits - tuition remission for employees, generous vacation time, access to all activities & opportunities campuses have to offer
Student affairs professionals work in a variety of offices on campuses. These areas vary between universities. Functional areas available include:
- Financial Aid
- Wellness and Recreation
- Student Conduct
- Residence Life
- Greek Life
- Academic Advising
- International Student Services
- Student Activities
- Student Union
- Multicultural Services
- Leadership Development
- Career Services
Do Your Research
The most important thing you can do to get started on this process is do some research.Talk to People
If you haven't already, start talking to professionals in the field. Start with people on your campus, at every level and particularly in offices where you might like to work some day. Ask them about their career path, education, and recommendations for you. Share with them what your goals are, and what you have learned so far. Talk to multiple people, and then weigh all of their advice before making your own decisions.
Search the Web
Through this site you have probably already found some great links. Here are a few more to keep you looking. Also check out the websites of schools you are particularly interested in. Most institutions have a website for their Division of Student Affairs.
Important Questions to Consider
As you learn more about the field there are some questions every candidate needs to consider. This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but will get you started!
- Can I go straight to graduate school or do I need a break first?
- What professional goals do I have for myself (where do I want to be in five or ten years)?
- What do I want to have? (good job, financial security)
- Where are I willing to go? (Stay close to home, travel)
- How important is education in where I want to go? What education do I need to get what I want?
- What experiences and skills do I have?
- What route (positions, school) will help me get where I want to go?
- Current campus activities and experiences
- Internships (RA Exchange, ACUHO-I, NODA, ACPA)
- What experiences do I want to gain?
- What am I looking for in a program, department and institution?
- Mission, values
- Large or small
- Public, private
- Four year, two year
- What resources do I need in order to apply to graduate schools/job search?
Currently there are approximately 200 graduate programs offered across the country that are related to the field of student affairs. Fortunately, there are some great resources out there to help you figure out what school and program are right for you. To get started, don't miss this article from the ACPA website entitled Selecting a Student Affairs Graduate Program. This comprehensive guide will give you lots of things to think about.
UofL Graduate School Info
Graduate School Directories
The following sites offer directories of student affairs related graduate programs:
- ACPA Directory of Graduate Programs
- NASPA Graduate Preparation Programs
- Gradschools.com - Student Development, Student Affairs, Student Personnel Administration
Explore Your Options
Some professional organizations are now offering programs designed for undergraduates considering a career in student affairs. These programs give you access to leaders in the field and an opportunity to explore your options.
ACPA Next Generation - The Next Generation Conference is a two-day event held during the American College Personnel Association’s Annual Convention each year. This conference is designed for undergraduate students and others who are exploring student affairs and higher education administration as a career option. It will have opportunities to talk with professionals, current graduate students, and faculty as you explore this career option.
ACUHO-I STARS College - The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) offers this exciting opportunity for 40 current sophomores and juniors who would be interested in pursuing a career in housing. STARS College typically occurs just prior to the ACUHO-I Annual Conference in June.
Internships are a great way to learn more about career options in a short time span, either during your time as an undergraduate or while you are a graduate student. Several professional organizations provide internship programs to help match you with an internship site.
- ACPA Graduate Preparation Internship Program - ACPA serves as a clearinghouse of higher education internship opportunities for graduate students in all the functional areas of student affairs through this program.
- ACUHO-I Housing Internship - This long-standing program offers internships in the fall, spring, and summer. Colleges across the country participate, and interns learn about all aspects of housing and residence life.
- NODA Summer Internship Program - The National Orientation Directors Association coordinates a summer program to match motivated, quality students with challenging, exciting orientation positions in institutions across the U.S. and Canada
The Above Information is from Oklahoma State University. Additional University Site that may be of interest: