5 Things the Field Taught Me

by Dylan Ruffra

This year is the fifth year of the Student Affairs, - the First Years blog site. As someone who is about to finish my time in graduate school, I thought I would comment on the biggest five things the field has taught me. With the past year in a half in graduate school, I have learned a lot through my student affairs experiences. Here are the five biggest things the field has taught me:
  1. Advocate- From my student affairs course work, I have learned how necessary it is to be an advocate for students. Not all students are given the same opportunities or resources while in college, which is why I think it is good to stand up for these students. The diversity class I am taking is helping me realize different identities that students have and how their identity affect their college experience. Through learning I have also been exposed the different rights students have while in college.
  2. The Field is Ever Changing- Within the field there is always different current events going on that affect our students. This is not a career that is constant. I have learned that one week you can be doing a helping a student through a room change and helping a student group plan a leadership conference the next. To me the field is always changing because we are learning new things about students every day. The way that we interacted with students or handle situations has definitely changed since the beginning of higher education and we must know that it will continue to evolve.
  3. Development-There is a lot of ways to develop and learn within this field. Most of the professionals around you want to share their wealth of knowledge. There is also different ways to learn from conferences and webinars as well. With my experience, taking students to a leadership conference has helped me develop, but I also got to see them develop as leaders. For me this rolls over to how I can help the students I interact with every day. By learning from others or about different student populations, I can in turn help my students become better leaders.
  4. Budgets- Within the past year and a half, budgets are something I have got to learn a lot about. Through my assistantship I have to keep track of all the money that is used through our residence hall. Within the field I feel like budgets are a reflection of the services that we can provide. Through my higher education experience thus far budget cuts have been a hot topic. Whenever we talk about budget cuts, we always talk about what services we can reduce while still providing students with what they need. It is often interesting amount of money a department has can play a crucial role in the services we can provide
  5. Flexibility-Working in the field has helped me learned how to be flexible. Even when I plan my whole day, I have to be ready at an instance to service my students. I would not be a good hall director if a student who was going through a situation and I told them I was too busy and come back another day. While being a supervisor, I have learned the importance of showing flexibility to my student staff. These students are exactly that, students. I make sure students can succeed academically while still doing great things in their position as a Resident Assistant.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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