My job involves problem solving for students and parents, assessment (CIRP, CSS, NSSE, SSI), training and development of a large staff, leadership for one of the largest budgets at Union, legal issues (responses to issues as well as the development of policies that help us legally), scholarship (a great deal of writing and speaking), crisis management, and many meetings (senior leadership, staff meetings, student services faculty committee, strategic planning committee, trustee meetings, SGA meetings President's Cabinet, Provost Council, ad hoc committees, etc.) I also do a great deal of data assessment, trend projection, and pinpointing and operationalizing retention strategies.
I hope that you find a vocation that you love as much as I love mine. If you love ministry and people, and want to make a real difference in the lives of others, student development may be an excellent fit for you.
Here is some advice as you consider this profession.
1) Be involved in a student life office while an undergraduate student. (Volunteer or work with an organization or an office if you can't get a workship/workstudy position. Never underestimate the power of volunteering and developing solid relationships in fields that interest you.)
2) Go to graduate school. There are many types and different delivery methods (online, residential, more theory, more praxis. You need to talk to a network to see what institution is going to be the best fit for you.)
Many program deadlines for graduate school scholarships are in March. Financially, it would be good to find a program that pays a small stipend through a GA (graduate assistant) position and also waives tuition - like Baylor, unless you have a full time job in student development. (Also called student services, student life - the terms are interchangable.)
3) You have to begin as a director/assistant director in something before moving "up" (e.g. leadership development, Greek Life, student activities, career services, academic support, counseling services, judicial affairs, first year experience programs, intramurals/wellness, service learning, orientation director, SGA, academic advisor.) Residence Life is the most common way people get started because it gives you experience with most everything in student life. (This may sound obvious, but you can't start out as a Vice President for Student Services. Most often, you have to come up through a department within the division, and certainly have an excellent working knowledge of all the departments.)
Graduate Programs: Recommended Schools To Explore:
For the most up to date graduate list, click here:
Baylor (TX, faith based) - residential, excellent GA opportunities
Asuza Pacific University (California, faith based)
University of Louisville
http://louisville.edu/graduatecatalog/programs/degree-programs/academic/ge/hedma University of Louisville
Taylor University (CCCU) - (Indiana, residential, excellent GA opportunities)
Messiah College has a new online program http://www.messiah.edu/academics/graduate_studies/Higher-Ed/index.html%20(with%20a%20focus%20in%20college athletics management; institutional advancement; student affairs –or create your own individualized concentration, tailored to your professional goals.)
Geneva College: Very well respected graduate program
Unless you already have a full time job in higher education, I would not recommend an online program because you need current context and experience while you are working.
Look at the website job descriptions from CCCU and ACSD (websites below) and see what job descriptions resonate with you. Again, eventually, you will have to narrow and specialize in order to get hired. (Employers don't necessarily want you to "love everything" - that can be interpreted as being unfocused. Employeers want you to 100% love and have experience in the area for which they are hiring, especially when you are starting out.) For example, I want my wellness center director to love wellness. I want leadership development folks to love training and development, to know the leadership trends and books out there. I want residence life to understand the specific opportunities and challenges within residence life (RA training, crisis planning, occupancy reports, etc.)
Never, and I mean never, talk to an employer and talk about how you want the job because of the experience or that you want to "try out this field." An employer only wants to know what YOU can do for them, not necessarily what they can do for you. (e.g. talking about your excitment about the tuition discount in the interview is a big turn off.)
Programs/PeopleUniversity of Memphis
(MS, Leadership and Policy Studies - student personnel concentration.)
The classes are offered in Memphis or at Jackson State.
Contact Dr. Frances Pearson 901.678.4060
Contact Ashley Jackson email@example.com who graduated with classes from that program.
Herrell, Laura [Laura_Herrell@baylor.edu]
Graduated Baylor in May 2011
On scholarship - Interned in VP for Student Services Office
Jon Abernathy - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Graduated Baylor in May 2011
On Scholarship- Working in Academic Success.
Serves as our (inaugural) Director, Office of Disability Services at Union.
Cam Armstrong - Masters at University of Florida, working on Ph.D. at APU
Former coordinator of Student Activities at Mississippi College
Now works at Baylor University
Stephanie Lee Steele - Masters and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt
Was Union's first Director of Student Leadership Development.
Now is full time faculty at Union in the College of Education.
University of South Carolina
(Now a doctoral student in Michigan - focus international/intercultural higher ed)
Associate Director of Student Leadership Development and Student Programs
Graduate of Dallas Baptist University's college student development/higher ed program
Director of Student Leadership Development
Masters at University of South Florida, finishing Ed.D. at Union University
Masters from Baylor University
Director of Student Services at The Kings College in Manhatten
Regent University - completed online masters in college student development
Assistant Dean of Students at Union
Masters at Asuza Pacific University, finishing Ed.D. at Union University
Kimberly Thornbury, Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students, UU
Masters at University of Louisville, Ph.D. Regent Univeresity
Director of Residence Life
MDiv from Denver Seminary, but can talk to you about how he uses his MDiv and pastoral training in work with college students.
Several student life professionals also completed masters degrees at Union, and tailored projects to their student development interests. Such employees include Jacqueline Taylor, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Vocatio Center for Life calling and Career, Ashley Jackson, and Blake Pennington. Renee Jones, Associate Director of the Vocatio Center received her MBA at Union.
Websites you should know:
myacpa.org (this and naspa below are the two largest professional organizations for our field.)
http://www.naspa.org/ (National Associatiotn of Student Personnel Administrators)
http://www.acsdhome.org/ (This is the best site for those wanting to go into student development at schools like Union - evangelical, liberal arts colleges.)
http://www/cccu.org (Council for Colleges and Universities.)
Southern Placement Exchange (Usually held in March in the South - sometimes as close as Memphis) http://www.southernplacement.com/
Oshkosh Placement Exchange (Feb 26-March 1) Oshkosh, WI, http://www.thope.org/
(Type in the website since dates will change.)
Discipline specific professional websites for housing, orientation, activities, intramurals, etc.
http://www.apa.org/ American psychological association (e.g. Dr. Paul Deschenes)
http://www.aacc.net/ American association of christian counselors (e.g. Dr. Paul Deschenes)
http://www.caps.net/ Christian association for psychological studies (e.g. Dr. Paul Deschenes)
http://www.ahead.org/ Disabilty services (e.g. Dr. Paul Deschenes)
http://www.nsca.com/ - National Strength and Conditioning Association (e.g. Matt Brunet)
http://www.nirsa.org/ -National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (e.g. Blake Pennington)
http://www.acha.org/index.cfm American College Health Association (e.g. Nurse Paul)
IAEM (International Association of Emergency Managers http://www.iaem.com/ (e.g Carson Hawkins)
Leadership Development: (e.g. Jason Castles and Karen Taylor)
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) http://www.naceweb.org/
Southern Association of College and Employers (SoAce) http://www.soace.org/
Tennessee Association of Colleges and Employers (TACE) http://www.tace.org/
http://www.acsdhome.org/ --Assocation of Christians in Student Development
http://chronicle.com/ --Chronicle of Higher Ed
http://www.studentaffairs.com/ --Student Affairs (general)
http://www.residentassistant.com/one/index.php --Resident Assistants
http://www.asjaonline.org/ --Judicial Officers (e.g. Bryan Carrier)
http://www.acuho-i.org/?tabid=125 –Housing Officers (e.g. Ken Litscher)
http://www.securityoncampus.org/ - Safety and Security (e.g. Carson Hawkins)
Hundley Center (e.g. Bethany Morse)
National College Learning Center Associationhttp://www.nclca.org/
National Center for Developmental Educationhttp://www.ncde.appstate.edu/
National Tutoring Associationhttp://www.ntatutor.com/