This week, I will point out what I feel is important to remember in our profession. There are 6 major things that come to mind when talking about student success.
Remember that our students are humans first, students second, and whatever other position they might hold third.
If we, as professionals, cannot remember this, then we should not be given the opportunity to serve them. There are times when our students can be a lot to handle. If it ever comes to the point of hurting their human side, we should step back and check ourselves. If a student is struggling, we should look at all the situations they are in, including our relationship with that student.
Take some time for yourself whenever you need it.
We must set the example we want our students to follow. If we choose not to take vacation time or relax when needed, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice; we’re also doing a disservice to our students. As professionals, we are models for our students. Lead by example; we should tell the students what we do to take care of ourselves. By discussing it, we are providing an example to our student. By taking proper care of ourselves, we are ensuring that we are mentally and physically able to assist our students when the need arises.
Ask the students what they want and how we can support them.
In my experience, there comes a point where we forget to ask how the student is doing. For instance, during my first semester as a Desk Manager, I did not focus as much as I should have on my students. I didn’t build a rapport with my students until the second semester. After that, I saw a big improvement in my relationships with the students and their successes. I found that one good way to build rapport is to frequently ask how the student is doing.
Never tell a student to “just grow up.”
This might be seen as a way to give much needed tough love, but it often pushes the student away. If we, as professionals, can’t rephrase this in a way to help the student improve, it shows a lack of our own maturity. By listening to the student, we encourage them to come to their own conclusion of the situation. We allow our students to choose their own path and to grow. Often times, the person you’re telling to grow up is simply looking for a shoulder to cry on, so to speak. The student might just want someone to listen to what they are saying. When I complain, I generally don’t want advice on what to do; I just want someone to complain to and to be heard.
Never tell a student that they cannot feel a certain way.
Humans—students included—are allowed to have feelings. If a student feels a certain way, instead of saying they cannot feel that way, we should ask why they feel that way. By asking why they feel that way, we are allowing the student to express those feelings. We can then help the student find a solution to that problem.
Remember that student success is our main goal.
We are there to help the students. Our goal is to let the students grow and become productive adults. As professionals, we are there to advocate for their needs. We’re there to give students a better education, both inside and outside the classroom. We need to ensure that student organizations are truly student organizations and are not run by Student Affair Professionals. We cannot control what our students do, but we can give them the resources to make their own decisions and receive support and help, if they so choose.
This is a short list; I know there are other important things to remember in our profession. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below! I want to know what you think!