Many of us fall into our roles in Student Affairs “by accident.” We often become involved on our campus in undergrad and discover that we can take that experience and build upon it in our professional careers. In undergrad I was a RA, followed by a role in Community Service and Leadership Programs before spending this past year as an Academic Advisor at Boston Architectural College. In my current role, I work with Bachelor’s and Master’s students in professional programs which lead to licensure in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture, and students pursuing degrees in Design Studies. Each of these programs have particular requirements and although they share “architecture” in their titles, they are unique. The programs at the BAC are different than at other institutions because students are required to complete a certain number of hours in practice, where they work in professional roles concurrent with their academic program. Most of our classes are held at night, so my day starts at 11:30 and ends at 7:30.
A “typical” day (atypical for those familiar with higher education) involves several meetings with students. These meetings cover a variety of academic issues including course sequencing, processing academic warnings, and working with students on academic probation. At a small institution, it’s easy to participate in other functional areas, and my department does that through the creation of the Stall Street Journal, also known as the bathroom news. We post this monthly newsletter in the bathrooms on campus and include a few jokes for entertainment. One thing that is very rewarding about advising is the positive impact of interaction with students, regardless of the nature of the meeting. Students will return to my office to share progress they’ve made or something they’re excited about. Recently a student approached me at our end of the year party -Parti – and was excited to introduce me to his partner, and of course share the summer courses he decided upon.
Throughout the year we do have some ebbs and flows, the beginning of each semester means long days of orientation, registration, and drop-in appointments where we may see thirty students in a few hours. Our probation policy requires that students meet with us regularly throughout the semester and complete a Contract for Educational Progress. At different points in the semester, we tend to see academic warnings, or meetings to discuss courses for the next semester. As an introvert, I’ve found that advising allows me to work one-on-one with students in a capacity that I excel in.
As someone who has no background in the design field, I’ve learned a lot about it in the past year. For example, I thought our building was out of place on a street of beautiful brownstones, but learned it’s a specific style of architecture and intentionally designed to look this way. I am consistently impressed by the work our students do. There is currently an exhibit in our gallery of the graduating students’ work and it amazes me. Finally, I think that regardless of your role in Student Affairs, you will have moments that remind you of the impact you have on students’ lives and why you chose this career in the first place.
This post is part of our #dayinSA series on highlighting the diversity of functional areas in the field of student affairs. We will hear from #SApros of all kinds – academic advisors, office mangagers, res hall directors, vice provosts of SA, and many many more. Each will share exactly what their typical day looks like, what exactly they work on, and what makes them want to come to work each day. We hope to squash stereotypes within the field and celebrate all the different kinds of great work that #SApros do. For more information, check out the intro post by Sara Ackerson. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!