Make Shift Happen

When I first began a career in student affairs, my director was a good and fair person, always supporting a life in balance. Work late for a program? Take a few hours of personal time the next day. Spend a weekend away at a conference? Be sure to take a personal day to catch up on things at home. As a supervisor, I have attempted to mirror this courtesy, believing that people, and family and lives, are more important than a 60-hour workweek. There will always be work to done, reports to write, and programs to plan.
The theme of work-life balance remains a popular topic among colleagues as we seek an adequate distribution. Too many friends make 10-12 hour work days a habit while answering the duty phone each weekend. While we advise students to choose a few extracurricular activities on which to focus, we disregard this advice and drive ourselves to exhaustion.
Clare Cady fired off a discussion on the topic, inviting us to shift our thinking.

I am of the school that work-life balance does not exist. There is life. Part of life for many of us includes work, hopefully in a field where we are happy and satisfied. But life is not about work — it is about living.
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Acceptance rate

It began today. The messages were waiting when I checked the family email account this morning. Recruitment emails for my high school sophomore. College recruitment.
Looks like you took the PSAT. Clever. Starting the college search as a sophomore tells colleges that you’re serious about your future…
After a career in higher education, including admissions, I am supposed to be ready for this transition. Choosing a major, applying for scholarships, finding a “good fit” school. It’s a different story now. And I am not alone.
Admissions staff at Penn have discussed the college search process for their own children…
It can be challenging to be a strong self-advocate. All our lives we tell our kids to be humble and polite, but kids need to drive the application process and be self-promoting in this process so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t assert yourself in the college search process or application, no one else will do it for you.  ~Jodi Robinson
Good advice.

Bloom’s Where You Are Planted

Spent a morning with student affairs colleagues developing new program and learning outcomes to define our work in connection to university and division strategic plans. Beginning at the bottom of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomies (below), we crafted outcomes statements to link programs and goals to unit learning domains.
Student Affairs assessment is not spontaneous. It must be intentional and carefully defined to provide meaning for your unit and for your students. If  not, it becomes just another “so what” to toss on the shelf.

Blooms Taxonomy

Learning outcomes are all about the verbs. Check out this great list of Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs.

 

Big Demands, High Expectations

lineinsandThat line in the sand… you know the one. That fine line between serving students and the need to separate work from personal time. The ability to decline that after-hours cell phone call or cut off the never ending stream of late night email requests that cannot wait until morning.
The expectations of millennial college students for synchronous customer service in an era of social media shaming takes a toll on student affairs professionals. Despite the satisfaction we derive from service to students, we cannot be on call 24 x 7 x 52. And yet students are only too willing to make a complaint, or worse yet, lambast our programs on Yik Yak. Where is the middle ground? Do we offer too little challenge with our abundance of support?
Don’t feel you must instantly respond to every student question and request. Sometimes it is good to encourage a student to THINK.

Bounce back

You don’t last as long as I have in student affairs or any profession without recovery skills, so this article on resilience captured my attention. It featured a new British study where 75% of respondents identified “managing difficult people or office politics at work” as the most substantial impact to overall career stress.
The original study sought to gather stories of successful women as inspiration for women striving to advance in leadership. It found 90% of men and women surveyed credited resilience as important to their success, but only 6% found help in building this skill in their workplace. This may be a reminder that relationship skills and organization politics are smart topics for that next professional development meeting.
One final thought. What if you are the “difficult person” being managed?

New mistakes

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As we head back to our work and careers in this first full week of the new year, let’s remember that it is the extra efforts, the little risks that move us forward. Be BOLD.
I hope that in the year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing the things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.  ~Neil Gaiman