Every program planned by student affairs professionals should be intentional. Whether we serve in residence life, student life, or we serve as Dean of the college every thing we do including programs should be focused on student success and retention. Our main goal is student success both inside of the classroom and outside. By making the decision to attend an institution of higher education students are no longer “undecided”, but made the conscious decision to pursue success through a higher educational system. It is our duty to teach them through the unconventional, alternative and unorthodox. As professionals in students affairs, we work outside the box. As generations continue to grow and evolve, our programs have to as well. There are foundational programs that will always be beneficial to the student population including forms of welcome week, diversity programs and personal and professional development programs, but it is how we present those programs and who we target will have a hand in producing effective world leaders and contributing alumni.
Having events that focus on school pride whether homecoming or welcome week can instill a sense of belonging and pride in the hearts of many students. It is important, in my opinion to assure students, especially those who are not legacies, to feel welcomed and wanted by their educational institution. If professionals are intentional about creating a caring environment for students, it likely they will want to contribute to the betterment and upkeep of their alma mater. If a culture of care is foster and sustained, it will show in the programming that implemented.
Every college and university should strive to have a diverse population of students. We are slowly entering a paradigm shift that shows everyone that diversity is more that ethnicity, but thought, social class, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Finding and implementing programming that speaks to the differences in others is another great way to provide intentional programs. Many institutions focus heavily on first time in college students in order to get them acclimated and engaged into the college culture. Student affairs focus on engagement and taking their academics and the engagement to make for the whole college experience.
Students come to a place of higher learning for many reasons. Reasons, from my experience, including but not limited to, familial obligation, expectations, to find themselves and the better educate themselves so they can advance in their career choice or discover their passion. If we can produce programs to show we are passionate about their success and want to help them find their way; we are showing the students why we work in student affairs. We work in the higher education realm, yes, but many of our talents lie in the development of people. We have the chance to help shape a generation of world leaders, scientists and inventors.
Programming, in the past has given educators those in the world of academia a bad taste in their mouths because the validity was no apparent, but intentional programming and collaboration is proven to help students have a full college experience and become a well rounded individual. Our future leaders of the world are not only book smart intellectuals, but philanthropists, humanitarians and life-changers. Be intentional, be creative and be brave.
Keep Calm and Program On!