Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.
At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!
If you are familiar with psychological type and the MBTI®, you may recognize that type theory explains the random behavior of people’s lives as actually quite orderly and patterned. This is due to basic methods used by individuals to take in information and make decisions.
The last letter of the 4-letter MBTI code highlights the process one uses in dealing with the outer world. Do you prefer to plan ahead and get things decided (Judging) or do you prefer to remain flexible and open to new options (Perceiving)? Not to be confused with organization, as either preference can be organized, the J or P Preference indicates how we interact in our outer life, whether structured and decided (J) or curious and open-ended (P).
Which option would you choose?
Do you prefer to:
Arrange lunch plans, events, parties, etc., well in advance, or
Be free to spend your day doing whatever looks like fun?
In Building Momentum: The Unconventional Strengths of Perceiving College Students, Meri Beckham explores the successful practices of Perceiving college students including unconstrained time and working at the last minute. These methods are cited as the opposite of ideal strategies promoted in college success and study skills texts.
If you work in academic success, retention, first-year programming, or are interested in helping students make effective transitions to college, grab the article and join us Friday at 1PM EST for this week’s discussion on #SAreads.
The president of Georgia Regents University renewed discussion on the value of a college education with his recent essay, The Great Debate: Is College Still Worth It? The piece included poll results from a new survey by the American Association of State College and Universities stating that those with a college education and those more likely to benefit from higher education believe in its worth. So, college graduates, women, and communities of color have buy in to the value of education.
…to ensure our collective future success, more Americans must appreciate the value of, have access to, be able to afford, and complete college. This message must be disseminated widely, so we can rally the will and resources necessary to make it happen. ~Dr. Ricardo Azziz
More on the Value of Higher Education:
If you enjoyed my post on the MBTI Type preference of student affairs practitioners, you may be interested in this expanded article recently published in the Bulletin of Psychological Type, a publication of the Association for Psychological Type, International.
Link to article: Making Meaning with Type in College Student Affairs
My opportunity to teach a graduate course in Student Development Theory has been incredibly rewarding. I have enjoyed exploring Erickson, Chickering, Baxter Magolda, and the other tenets of our work with an enthusiastic group of up and coming student affairs professionals. We will wrap up the semester with an intensive look at the journey of self-authorship. The student affairs role in this journey, of becoming good company in the transformation of our students, defines my own practice.
Peggy Meszaros shares this excerpt describing her Learning Partnerships Model:It is important to have a good understanding of the model, and I offer a simple metaphor to help in visualizing it. To fully understand the Learning Partnerships Model [and the student affairs role in self-authorship], think about a journey you may be planning. You will need some form of transportation, a road map with signs along the way to guide your journey, and a final destination. Now visualize your mentoring transportation as a tandem bicycle. There is a rider on the front, the student, who decides the direction and is in charge of making decisions. The rider on the back is you, the teacher or student affairs professional, who stokes the bike, providing challenge and support for the student on the front. You provide the elements of challenge and support in your teaching and (you might picture them as the saddlebags for the journey). Keeping challenge and support in balance as the student heads in the direction of self-authorship is part of your role and a key element of the model. The guideposts are found as students move from absolute knowing, the first marker; through transitional or independent knowing, the second marker; to contextual knowing, the final destination.
How do you provide good company?
. . . . .
Meszaros, P. (2007). The journey of self-authorship: Why is it necessary? New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 109, p. 5-14. doi: 10.1002/tl.261
Nevitt Sanford is one of my favorite student affairs theorists. Sanford’s (1967) theory on student development was based upon providing a balance of challenge and support. Too much support with too little challenge creates a cushy environment for the student, where development is unlikely to occur. However, the opposite of too little support with too much challenge also makes development an impossible and negative experience.
Sanford was a political and social psychologist and instrumental in defining how prejudices and racism are defined early in childhood. His The Authoritarian Personality is a classic work in understanding the issues behind the Holocaust. Sanford engaged in a decade long academic freedom lawsuit with the University of California when he refused to sign a loyalty oath during the McCarthy era.
If we could punish people with extremely unpopular opinions then we could silence people with less unpopular opinions. ~Nevitt Sanford
It was Sanford’s work in student development theory that defines my philosophy for student affairs. Sanford pushed for colleges and universities to provide access and service to those for whom higher education may be out of reach. He challenged us to consider what education would look like if colleges enrolled students whom they could help the most, rather than compete for the students who boosted academic rankings and visibility.
What theorist or theory defines your work in student affairs?
Sanford, N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York, NY: Harper.
Sanford, N. (1967). Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press.