About two years ago, I realized I wanted to be a Student Affairs professional at a college or university. After bouncing around with such career aspirations as architect, physical therapist, and businessperson, and changing my major from marketing to professional writing, discovering Student Affairs elicited the same feeling as finding the perfect pair of jeans after trying on several so-so pairs (except on a more significant scale).
As I began actively pursuing my interest, people started approaching me with the question, “Why student affairs?” Since the question was pitched to me for the very first time, I’ve struggled to produce a coherent answer. “It just feels right,” isn’t substantial, but I also don’t know if I should go into all the intricacies of why the field appeals to me. Instead, I tend to talk about the profound impact my experience as an RA had on my perceptions of universities, the world, and people in general.
So, why Student Affairs?
An abbreviated version of the longish answer is that Student Affairs professionals have provided an enormous amount of support and guidance for me throughout my undergraduate career and I want to return the favor by helping future students in similar ways.
I struggled a lot, especially during my first year, and staff from the Division of Student Affairs at Miami helped me pull through when things were at their worst. Those people are very much the reason I persisted and stuck around. Many of the professionals in the field I’ve spoken with lately have mentioned something to the effect of it being impossible to impact every single student who passes through a particular school, but entirely feasible to help a few students create significant positive change in their lives. The latter portion of that observation is what motivates me to enter such a profession.
Typically, I choose to avoid the “full” answer because it requires vulnerability: I have to talk about some difficult times in my life. However, I think it’s this type authenticity that transforms the work of Student Affairs professionals into something so powerful.