So, you did it again, you went and spent the money for your professional association’s luncheon. I mean, you have to do it right? After all, it is only $45 for a plate that features pecan crusted chicken, green beans, and rice pilaf. Besides, the keynote is that person you have always heard of, you know the one whose book you read back in grad school. The one who did that study about that thing that is important to how you are supposed to work with students. And you are not disappointed, there are lots of facts and figures, and charts! Oh, the charts are so colorful and full of numbers and symbols! And to think this person has been studying this very subject, full time, for over 20 years. Then it hits you, how and why did this speaker get all of this time to do all of this interesting and complicated research? Did this person ever do a job remotely like yours? Your mind drifts, imagining the keynote speaker coordinating an orientation session, setting up for Late Night programming, or monitoring pref night with Panhellenic.
But you hang in there and by the end of the speech you leave inspired, full of new research, information, and maybe even an idea or two. But then life happens. While you are enjoying the chicken and the luminary you just got 37 emails, your calendar is now full until 2018, and you remember the last time you got home before 8PM was in 2011. So, despite the keynote’s best effort and your best intentions the echo effect of their speech lasts for 2 hours. Guess you should have just skipped out and hit up a sub shop and answered emails, at least then you would been productive.
Working in student affairs means maintaining a busy life no matter your age or position. The life of a professional in an entry level position busy is just the starting point. More like insane. It is not unusual for newer professionals to log 60 hours a week. Between early morning meetings and late night events, days are filled with purchase requests, resolving student conflicts, ordering glitter and glue sticks, and making sure your group follows Robert’s Rules of Order. There is barely time to catch How to get Away with Murder on Thursday night much less commit yourself to any kind of research or academic investigation. But you gotta do it right?
Maybe it’s time for a new research agenda. One built on academic work intended to help busy new professionals to do their jobs better and work with students more effectively. Opportunities for collaborations, where the research can be slid into an already impossible schedule but still be useful and impressive. But here is the problem, for years what has been deemed important to whatever research agenda we have has been engineered by folks who have likely not advised a student organization in 20 years.
On February 5th the Student Affairs Collective will be teaming up with the National Association for Campus Activities Research and Scholarship group for a session and is hoping to start a conversation about how to make research more accessible. Are there ideas out there younger student affairs professionals can grasp onto and use in everyday work? In addition how can this research help professionals not only become better scholars but also better at understanding how students learn from involvement? In a world where every program is academically reviewed and accreditation services are unavoidable the need to use current literature becomes even more important. Essentially, how do professionals get into the academic research game when they get home at 10PM every night? Let’s build an agenda around research for real life.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Lisa Endersby on Assessment in Student Affairs