by Katie Yeaton
Welcome class of 2019! Welcome to the world of Student Affairs and Higher Education.
I hope you are excited to embark on this new adventure. A Master’s degree in higher education and/or student affairs is an incredible opportunity. Perhaps I’m biased, but from one Master’s student to another, you’re going to love it! I suspect that you were involved in your undergraduate institution, collaborating with others, wanting to make an impact on campus, a legacy if you will. Well, the exciting news is that you have a new and slightly different opportunity now as a Master’s student. You can still get involved, but now more than ever is your time to inspire undergrads to take pride in their school and promote positive change. As a young student affairs professional I strongly encourage you to schedule personal reflection and a time to recharge. After one year in my two-year Master’s Program, here is my top five list of things to look out for:
Emails. If you do not already have multiple email accounts and a bucket of messages piling in, prepare to get organized.
Involvement. Once again, I might be jumping to conclusions, but student affairs folks tend to get involved in a lot. They are the spirit and livelihood of student life outside of the classroom. You can get swept away in all of the events, opportunities to host and co-advise events. My advice, do not spread yourself too thin. Dedicate yourself to a handful of events and groups. Be passionate about them and collaborate with other groups. Make connections and spread the love by having other educators, professionals, students, and people spearhead the events.
Time-Management. Yes, you are a student. You will have work and you will be pushing yourself to achieve the best you can. Get a planner, use Google Calendar and prep. Plan out the semester. Mark big dates when assignments, tests, and finals occur. Also plan a recovery or reflection weekend. Something I have done before my last two finals weeks was drive-off and visit California for a day. I make sure to have all my work done before I leave and I take this day to reconnect with my introverted-side.
“Work” Experience. Student and professional. I highly recommend you apply for Graduate Assistantships and/or professional student affairs positions. Having this practical experience complements your studies in ways you can only imagine.
Sustainability. “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Back to the Future series. If you have your heart and mind invested in your career in student affairs/higher education, I have the feeling you are going to have a fantastic experience in your graduate program. You may create an annual event, a new tradition, or create headway in a social justice concern on your campus. Whatever you do and whatever you accomplish, I hope your efforts continue for many years beyond your graduation. Look for leaders and people who care in this event, tradition, or social justice movement. Ensure the momentum you saw at your institution will be sustained even when you’re gone.
Overall, have a great time in graduate school! You are going to be an amazing student affairs and higher education educator. Do not be afraid to be yourself and encourage others to be true to themselves.