I need process. It was the first thing I did after arriving at South Carolina. I developed a paper form that my advisee and I shared to chart the development of a campus program. I realize that the next step for me is a process for student development. My 1-on-1 notes are underwhelming and don’t capture the complexities of college student development. This leads me to this search for process.
The doctor’s office has a process.
From the moment you fill out new patient forms to the second she does her wrap up speech, there is a process. Science and medicine have come far enough where they took what use to be a hit or miss guessing campaign against illness and turn it into a incredibly sophisticated set of pointed questions, medical testing, and If-Thens.
Student Development (and human development in a wider lens) isn’t that clear cut. Student Development is a messy process of growth and regression. Student Development is a moment to moment, unstable control over the situation, type of profession. Practitioners use theories when available (and sometimes just when there is time) to direct the developmental work which seems to be the norm amongst most of Student Affairs (at least from my own perceptions). I fall into that category but I’m ready for something more comprehensive and intentional.
I believe there is a systematic way to develop students.
Practitioners have their methods of advising, seemingly developed over years in the field. I’m imagining something with a deep structure that would be applied not just to the students I advise but to all students that work with Student Affairs practitioners at the institution. I believe some would call it “consistency of service.” The way I imagine it practitioners evaluate student’s level of development (with whichever metrics they choose), chart an intentional growth plan, assess them through the journey, and finish it off with exit counseling and a roadmap for continued growth. Think of it as a guardrail system on the highway. There is a clear road forward but always space to on each side for students to veer (just never far enough where they drive off the cliff). On that same highway is an officer making sure everything is under control but only steps in when something goes wrong. Its a standardized system that still keeps in mind the uniqueness of each student.
I see this as a cross-campus tool. I was meeting with a campus partner just the other day that oversees four-year advising in our College of Arts and Sciences. They utilize a system that connects all advisors into one network that offers information on courses, services, and even an area to mark comments and keep track of each student academically. I fell in love. I see this system in my head being ported into student development. Instead of looking at an advisees development just through my lens (either their leadership roles or just our interactions) I can layer in their four-year advisors, professors, coaches, etc… This provides a richness to development that I haven’t encountered. Dare I even use a popular buzzword… Holistic development. Instead of using that term related to developing the whole student through my work, I use it as developing the whole student from all those that interact with them on campus. My mind begins to take these thoughts and runs way into the future with them (which I struggle and fight sometimes) but for now I am just focusing on creating my advising process so I can offer the best experience for my advisees.
My green is showing.
I wan’t to frame these beliefs since this is Part 1 of a who-knows-how-long string of posts in this who-knows-how-long searchdevelopment of my professional advising process. A student recently dropped into my office and asked if I could help one of their student groups with a constitution revision. I legitimately became giddy. He mentioned that I was beginning to build a reputation as the Constitution King, which I think he meant as a half-hearted joke. I wish I could put that on a business card. I’ll frame this using true colors (one of my personal favorites). I am a strong OrangeGreen. The most glaring connection to my green is that I love process. When I say I love process I mean I LOVE process. I would call it a philosophical love affair. It is the first thing I look at when I start working on a new project. I want to make sure the process fits what I’m trying to accomplish and makes my effort as efficient as possible. It also feels like the best way I can leave a place better then I found it.
Plain and simple: I want to be the best advisor I can be. For me that starts with being more intentional and consistent. These posts serve as a record of that journey.
Have a process that works for you? If you dont mind, share with me!