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The Importance of Student Affairs and Partnerships

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According to O’Halloran (as cited by Cho, 2016), “primary examples of student and academic affairs collaborations include academic support, orientation, service, residential, and policy and planning activities”. As an admissions counselor, from the moment that I have completed an application and enrolled a student, I would transfer the student to a financial aid officer to view the financial funding plan. Once the student accepts the package, he/she should receive an e-mail from student services in regards to orientation. The academic advisor would check to confirm that all the correct classes have been scheduled and tell the student to order his/her textbook. Prior to beginning the class, the student should hear from the dean and professor in terms of what is required for the class and program. The best way to make sure that everyone is on the same page is by having everyone take part in a meeting at the end of the week. This meeting would confirm that everyone has been in contact with the student. For at least three months, the team assigned to each student would get together to discuss the student and his/her performance.

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The following explains the roles each person plays according to Caroline Gulbrandsen: Admissions understand its responsibility to recruit and enroll students; academic affairs focuses on its degree programs, teaching, and assessment; student affairs are all about the total student experience, and financial services want to make sure students are satisfying their financial obligations. (Gulbrandsen, 2018) Allowing each person to play his/her role and give updates about the student would help make these meetings successful. It’s important to know each members strengths and weaknesses. If one falls short, the remaining members can help. That means if someone is behind on contacting a student, someone else does it.

If a document isn’t on file, someone else requests it. “To overcome these barriers and increase student success, student affairs professionals, academic faculty, and administrators must develop collaborative partnerships that share values, goals, and a commitment to comprehensive and seamless educational environments” (Frost et al., 2010). If an individual is not able to attend the meeting on that day, the manager of that department would meet with the others. Checking in with the student every six months after making sure everything is going smoothly the first three months is a good way of keeping track of the students’ progress toward graduation. Retention and persistence are both important in higher education. “Retention rate refers to the percentage of students who stay enrolled term over the term. Persistence is the percentage of students who graduate. Both can be measured by program, department, and institution” (Gulbrandsen, 2018).

Partnerships may be prevented if not everyone is on the same page. Negative attitudes can have a bad impact on collaboration. According to Bourassa & Kruger (as cited by Frost et al.): Several obstacles to successful academic and student affairs partnerships include cultural distinctions in administration, faculty, and services staff; the historical separation between curricular and co-curricular instruction; the perceived second-class status of student affairs in relation to the academic mission; and differing views on student learning. (Frost et al., 2010) Reminding each person of why his/her role is of utmost importance would be required.

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Understanding that without the other, they would have more responsibilities. Individuals that work in higher education must understand that all of them have one goal. “With the espoused values level (articulated goals), administrators should consider whether they consistently message collaboration as a priority in vision, mission, and strategic planning documents” (Cho, 2016). Therefore, by having team members express gratitude to one another, everyone feels appreciated. No one would feel as though they are not equally important in the success of a student.

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