There are many students that go to higher learning institutions that are looking for a something. These students are searching for who they are and who they want to be all while wanting to be contributing members of society through their profession. We have all been students at one time or another, and we didn’t go in knowing everything there was to know. In higher education, we are known for living by the (unspoken) rule: “we’re not their parents, they need to grow up”, but we were taught how to be the leaders, professionals, etc. It is our job as Students Affairs professionals to give guidance, show support and teach. A parents’ role is to be the caretaker, show love and praise or discipline their children for their behaviors; as professionals we add to the foundation the parent has set. We are meant to build healthy relationships with students in order to prepare and development them into leaders, innovators, philanthropists, etc. Parents and professionals alike are working toward the same goal, student success, but parents are, in most cases, mandated to engrain morals, self-confidence, social skills and foundational elements that lead them to want to better themselves by coming to the higher-ed arena. We are hired and have a passion for helping students realize their full potential and guiding them to use what they have in them to be professionals. The Student Affairs realm is the “classroom without walls”; we are teachers, counselors, mentors and depending on your personality our students become like extended family. We want to see each of them succeed, not because you had a hand in their success, but because in Student Affairs, we develop students and each other. Knowledge for the sake of getting a job is not enough. We have been tasked to develop students into well-rounded, innovative members of society that can compete in an ever-growing, ever-evolving world. Success is fulfillment and fulfillment is found by being a whole person.
Gateway to Success:
The relationships that we build with our students is an extension of the relationship they’ve built with their parents. A child’s first relationship is with their parents, and depending on the dynamics of their relationship, they may come to our offices socially raw and exposed, or polished and poised. We have to meet the students where they are to help and guide them to their goals.
Every student we encounter is an individual and has unique needs. Preparing a student for success is not a process that can be followed the same way with every student; there is no “cookie cutter” success plan. There are students that may need more or less attention than others. It could be that your students need a personal success mentor/coach to help them in their personal life because their academics are in good shape of vice-versa; it could be that your student needs both. How are we the gateway to success? We are the experts, and if not, we can find the expert that they need. Students are the experts when it comes to self development and and expressing verbally or nonverbally what they need. Although, we, and parents are meant to refine and shape their development. Jamie H. Shushan in his “Pocket Guide to College Success” speaks on the importance of building a strong college network. Student Affairs is a large part of the network that students should have and should be the professionals helping them connect to other professionals in which they can build and healthy, trusting, professional relationship with. Student Affairs plays a major role in helping students get to their next steps in life. We teach life skills and best practices for life. Students get involved with Student Affairs for a reason; we have to remember the student chose our higher education to develop themselves and we have to choose to develop them as we develop ourselves. Continue to be the pathway to success, collaborate with faculty and staff because we are here for the students.