Student affairs/ working at a college

  • jeremylk7

    Posts: 91

    Oct 10, 2011 1:30 AM GMT
    Does anyone here work for a college? I'm thinking of going back to get my masters in Student affairs. Does anyone have any tips or stories about how they got into the field?

    How good of a field is it?

    Is it hard to find a job?

    Would I be better trying to get a part time job at university first and then get my masters there or should I try to get a graduate assistant position?
  • jeremylk7

    Posts: 91

    Oct 10, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    Boo no replies?
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Oct 10, 2011 11:45 PM GMT
    Depends on where you want to be in student affairs. Most of the jobs are going to be low paid secretarial. Most of the staff that seemed to be high paid were older people, who possible were professors before. I do know that you could be an administrator in a school district. Those jobs are hard to get, but their pay is quite handsome.

    I don't know though. I haven't worked in student affairs.

    I think it would be best if you tried contacting your previous university to see what they say?
  • Coug24_wyo

    Posts: 147

    Oct 10, 2011 11:45 PM GMT
    Hey so I'm not too positive on the best route for you to get into there but I would say that colleges are a fun and exciting atmosphere to work in so you have a great idea going there.

    I would say if you are qualified and can get a position and then work on your masters go that route, as you will get a nice discount on classes sometimes as a faculty. Good luck to ya and fill us in on how it works out for ya!

    Taylor
  • SEM8806

    Posts: 22

    Oct 10, 2011 11:49 PM GMT
    I am actually planning on going to school for Student Affairs myself. I worked for Indiana State University in the Residential Life area for almost 4 out of my 5 years as an undergraduate there. I have fallen in love with many of the attributes of the positions in the field, both in Residential Life and in Admissions (where I did my internship). A lot of the schools in the midwest have great programs (perhaps because of the close proximity of Osh Kosh and the OPE--Osh Kosh Placement Exchange). One of my friends and former colleagues from Res. Life is currently enrolled in the program at Western Illinois University. Other programs that I've heard are worth looking into are Arkansas State University (I think? it's in Jonesboro), Indiana State University (my alma mater), and University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. A lot of my supervisors and a few of my friends have gone through the Indiana State program and have said it was an amazing experience. The SAHE (student affairs and higher education) section on ISU's site is kind of sparse, so I would write for additional information. I plan on starting my applications this weekend for University of Louisville, Indiana State, Illinois State, (who also has a program, but I haven't heard any reviews to tell you whether it's good or bad), as well as a few universities down south. If you have any recommendations, feel free to message me on here or write back on here and hopefully I can remember to check it.
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    Oct 10, 2011 11:51 PM GMT
    I work for a community college. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you may want to consider getting a student services position at a smaller school like a community college. There should be some positions you could get now if they are available. You could work your way up the ladder a bit quicker than a larger university - and sometimes, you can get tuition assistance for your graduate degree, especially if the community college is a branch of a larger university. Then, if a position is available when you finish, you could really move up the ladder and/or look for a position at a university.

  • Import

    Posts: 7190

    Oct 10, 2011 11:54 PM GMT
    I work in undergraduate admissions at a state university in south florida.

    I'll put it this way:
    It's a cool to say u work for university of XYZ, but money may be limited.

    My university is hiring academic advisors and student affairs officers with a masters degree required starting at $38k/ year./ icon_confused.gif
  • SEM8806

    Posts: 22

    Oct 10, 2011 11:54 PM GMT
    Sorry, I got excited in my first post and didn't answer the entire questions, so let me try again. If you enjoy working with (mostly) young adults and helping them grow into successful individuals and flourish in the environment, then Student Affairs might be for you. A lot of the Student Affairs programs require a graduate assistantship in order to take part in the program. (I know Indiana State, Western Illinois, and University of Louisville all do) So thats probably the route you want to go with that. I know at ISU, depending on the assistantship, you pay little or nothing towards your education due to the assistantship and such. Most of my bosses/friends that have graduated with a Master's in SAHE have all been placed in jobs shortly after graduation. (The longest I think was like 3 or 4 months after graduation). I think some of the programs have like a 95% placement rate. I actually can't think of anyone that I knew (not saying that they don't exist) that didn't get a job placement upon completion of the program.
  • SEM8806

    Posts: 22

    Oct 10, 2011 11:56 PM GMT
    Yeah it's certainly not lucrative. My supervisor made around ~30 but had living expenses that were paid for her. (She was an Area Director of a Res. Hall so she had a meal plan and apartment the university provided)
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    Oct 11, 2011 12:08 AM GMT
    I'm in student affairs. You don't need to get a degree in higher education administration. In fact, getting that degree may be detrimental to a career change if you decide to leave student affairs. I have my MA in counseling psychology and it worked well for me when I applied for the job that I'm in now. But be forewarned: higher education is very political and if you're anything like me in that you don't like authority for its own sake and you don't like playing games to get ahead, you're not going to like it. If you want to get ahead in higher education, you have to learn to please those above you. I hate doing that, so now I'm looking at going back to school for health sciences. I'm never working for a college in this capacity again.
  • Import

    Posts: 7190

    Oct 11, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    bostonxfit saidI'm in student affairs. You don't need to get a degree in higher education administration. In fact, getting that degree may be detrimental to a career change if you decide to leave student affairs. I have my MA in counseling psychology and it worked well for me when I applied for the job that I'm in now. But be forewarned: higher education is very political and if you're anything like me in that you don't like authority for its own sake and you don't like playing games to get ahead, you're not going to like it. If you want to get ahead in higher education, you have to learn to please those above you. I hate doing that, so now I'm looking at going back to school for health sciences. I'm never working for a college in this capacity again.


    so true dude.
    Offices can be chaotic and filled with a lotof Type A personalities as well.

    Literally kissing a lot of ass is what u gotta do. I've done my fair share and can feel the chunks coming up as I do it, yet it's worked.

    However, I've met some of my best friends at these offfices, so its not all bad.
  • jeremylk7

    Posts: 91

    Oct 11, 2011 1:21 AM GMT
    Hey guys thanks for the replies.

    I was a resident assistant and was student orientation leader during my college experience and honestly I never felt happier.

    I do really think that high education is where I belong. I realize it may be a lot of ass kissing but honestly I feel that is almost anywhere you go these days I'll deal with it to do what I love.


    I don't think I would like the clerical duties. But I'd like to be a recruiter or something involving dealing with students directly.

    Would I be able to get a position like that with just a bachelors?
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    Oct 11, 2011 1:28 AM GMT
    I did it for over 15 years. Even help found a brand new university. It was a great profession - my arena were:

    Residential Life
    Student Activities
    International Programs
    Prevention Education
    Office of the Vice President
    Judicial Affairs

    In residential life I made it all the way up the scale to a director's position.

    After 12 years I was burned out. The pay sucks and the universities I worked for had no respect for boundaries or asking me to work exorbitant amounts of overtime.

    The longer I stay in the profession the more I got the feeling that the students thought I was there to serve them rather then help them.

    I have a Master in Student Affairs and thought my education program was exceptional. Email me privately and I will tell you about it.

    Bottom line - the profession was great for me with helping my own self development and preparing me for MANY other aspects of life and jobs. Everything I learned in student affairs has made me better at what I do outside the universities.

    Let's talk.
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    Dec 11, 2011 9:39 PM GMT
    Import saidI work in undergraduate admissions at a state university in south florida.

    I'll put it this way:
    It's a cool to say u work for university of XYZ, but money may be limited.

    My university is hiring academic advisors and student affairs officers with a masters degree required starting at $38k/ year./ icon_confused.gif



    $38K is nothing to be upset about, when you consider that in my fourth year of teaching and with a masters, I make $36K.

    I'm considering getting aggressive about applying for student affairs or residence hall director positions next year. Colleges are great places to work and there is a strong history of support for GLBT individuals. There is also an entire institution and its culture supporting you -- access to the recreation center, the seminars and guest lectures, arts and music, the library, clubs and organizations, and of course tuition breaks.

    Currently I work in the public schools and although I really love what I do and the people I work with, the chances of me successfully navigating coming out, and having the freedom to be myself in the workplace, are really not so good considering the climate right now in schools. I know it's more possible in the right community, such as in the northeast or in large cities, but its tremendously stressful when you don't know if a parent or student will make your life miserable and when there aren't district policies or state laws that will back you. Work/live in an overly religious area and you end up worrying all the time. That's my situation now and I'm intent on getting through the year successfully and then move on if I can find a position elsewhere that fits me. I would return to K-12 teaching if the climate improves one day for GLBT teachers. I just think that's a good five or ten years off.

    Student affairs is something I've considered before, but last year I wasn't able to be present for the two major interview sessions in Chicago, so it's much harder to find a position without attending those.


    bostonxfit saidI'm in student affairs. You don't need to get a degree in higher education administration. In fact, getting that degree may be detrimental to a career change if you decide to leave student affairs. I have my MA in counseling psychology and it worked well for me when I applied for the job that I'm in now. But be forewarned: higher education is very political and if you're anything like me in that you don't like authority for its own sake and you don't like playing games to get ahead, you're not going to like it. If you want to get ahead in higher education, you have to learn to please those above you. I hate doing that, so now I'm looking at going back to school for health sciences. I'm never working for a college in this capacity again.



    There seem to be some university departments that are very cut-and-dried in that they look for the particular degree (college student personnel or similar.) Others are eclectic and welcome a variety of talented people. Probably I wouldn't want to work for the first type.

    Everywhere is like that man, with regard to the politics and the having to please the board members, supervisors, managers, and stakeholders above you. It's true in non-profits, it's true in public schools, it's true in corporations, it's true in government, it's even true in retail and in health care (nurses are among the most bullied of all professionals).

    If the rest of the environment and its benefits pleases you and nurtures you, stick with what you've got or find a different college to work for. There are good bosses and bad bosses. It takes time and some research and some intuition to read the situation and make the right decision about saying yes or no to the job. After enough interviews or jobs, you start to get better at reading the situation. Has there been lots of turnover? Do your peers in the position seem stressed or overly reserved and uncomfortable speaking openly? Those are signs that it is not a place you want to work.

    It's not a perfect way of determining if it's a good place to work, but I would look to see if they have a committee structure (at least that way you know that there is a formal channel for input) and about their retention rate.