To many people looking at the story of my life, 2014 wasn’t a phenomenally significant year—I didn’t move to a new institution; no changes occurred within the Registrar’s Office, or even at UMass Boston for that matter; my involvement in professional organizations maintains the status quo. Even my personal life has been fairly consistent.
I LIKE consistency.
Something within me changed this year however, and I didn’t even realize it until I began drafting this post. I’m committed to Registration and Enrollment Management. I took a position as a Registrar for a professional college within a larger university right out of grad school because I was desperate for a job. For those two years, I discussed how much I was advising these students, and how easily these skills would transfer into an advising gig down the line.
In September, 2013, I left that position to manage the graduation team within another Registrar’s Office. This certainly wasn’t my intention as I searched—this positions just sort of fell into my lap. I have the opportunity to advise even more students, and work closely with Academic and Faculty Advisors to help students attain graduation as smoothly as possible. Honestly, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get into the state, build some supervisory experience, expand my network with advisors and move into my dream role in a few years.
Only, I talk about academic advising in a much different way than I did in 2013. I see the whole system through an entirely different lens—one that advisors I speak with are often unaware exists. I see students denied graduation because they didn’t complete their gen ed requirements when they entered the school 4, 5, 6 years ago; I see students told to take courses which don’t fulfill degree requirements (and won’t help in future career plans). I see that advising is more than simply scheduling courses—it’s ensuring the student is within the repeat policy, that transfer credit gets approved/posted in a timely manner, that BOTH the major and general education requirements are being fulfilled in a timely fashion based on the student’s needs. Quite frankly, I’m looking at advising through an academic/administrative lens.
I know—Academy & Administration, those pretentious blowhards who just don’t understand what Student Affairs professionals do, how important we are to the work and mission of our institution! Most of my colleagues and counterparts haven’t read theories of student development, but they understand challenge and support, how social identity affects persistence and retention, and some can even make the connection between involvement and success. Something I’ve found myself doing over the past year is talking about the place of Enrollment Management & Academic Affairs within the realm of Student Services. Heck, I’ve started saying Student Services instead of Affairs—maybe somewhat semantical, but I find it’s been an important change in how I view my career. I’ve spent quite a bit of energy this year reminding anyone who will listen (thank you to my MCPA colleagues for bearing the brunt of this!!), that neither ACPA nor NASPA specify they only cover the Student Affairs hashtag, but one may not know that from attending a conference or reading the literature.
I think back to something my practicum advisor told me, which he learned from HIS practicum advisor (and I paraphrase): “You can’t have student development if the students don’t have beds.” Likewise, you can’t have students (which you need BEFORE you can even think about developing them) without a course schedule, policies, transcripts, degree audits, and diplomas. My world has expanded; I don’t know where my next steps will take me, but I do know those steps will be equally within two worlds.
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Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles