In the midst of dropping enrollment, budget cuts and policy changes, it can be hard to remember why you entered student affairs. And when all of these things happen in the same semester, it can be even more difficult.
One of the great things about the department I work in is that we are known as the staff that gets things done during difficult times. Recently, I was tasked with creating a digital marketing campaign to get students to apply to live on campus for Fall 2017 (thank you, undergrad degree). Our leadership team sat down and threw ideas around for what we wanted prospective students to know about living with us.
From that, the “I Found” campaign was born. We plan on highlighting six to ten of our residents with what they “found” while living on campus. We asked the resident assistants to nominate a resident from their floor to participate in the first step. This just included them filling out a Google form.
The questions were simple:
- How would you complete the following sentence only using one word? “I found ____ while living on campus at UALR.”
- Why did you choose that word?
I have never been a patient person. I watched the responses come in and I was pleasantly surprised by the answers we received. Students responded with “friends”, “brotherhood”, “a purpose”, “happiness”, and my personal favorite “home”. As a residence life professional, you dream that what you are doing is actually making a difference. This campaign showed us that even when you’re having a rough year, semester, month, or week, the students you interact with are benefiting from the late nights, the lunches you take at your desk, and the hundreds of meetings you get called to, that at the time seem pointless.
I have learned this semester is that it only takes one student to remind you why you love this field. It only takes one word to change the way you look at how your semester has gone. We teach our resident assistants that it is always quality over quantity when it comes to programming. However, as a professional we revert back to believing that we need quantity so budgets don’t get cut or to show you need more help in the office. This campaign showed me that while those things are important, it’s the quality of conversations we have that make the biggest impact on our students.
The student who found home while living on campus said,
“I chose this word because this is the place I look forward to coming back to when I’m away. The place I find stability, comfort, and safety. It is my own little, peaceful world.”
It doesn’t matter what the rest of this calendar or academic year throws at me. This student is just one of many good things on our campus. I, too, see this place as my home. I find stability and comfort here in this crazy hectic world we live in.
This post is part of our #OneGoodThing series for December. Given the numerous troubling things we have experienced together during the year of 2016, and all of the disagreement, we wanted to prove that 2016 wasn’t all bad. We will hear from #SApros about a memory, experience, or moment that was GOOD that happened to them in 2016. For more info, please see Doug’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Lougan Bishop on Working with Student Marketing Teams