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Do you feel that the task is somewhat overwhelming or is it possible for student affairs professionals to take up this mantle of responsibility on a daily basis? What welcomes undergraduates to this agenda and what, perhaps, hinders their acceptance of this function of American higher education?
Student affairs' professionals do have the capacity to carry out their duties on a daily basis. However, it is imperative that these professionals are organized in their approach and appropriately trained. According to Colby, Ehrlich, Beaumont and Stephens (2003) student affairs professionals must make a "concerted effort to assist students from the very first time that they come in contact with the school" (pp.226-227). Professionals must make students aware of the extracurricular activities available to them and the ways in which they can get involved on campus and in the surrounding community. The first relationship that student affairs' professional have with students begins with campus tours. These tours often leave an important first impression with students.
Beyond the first impression student affair professional must make a concerted effort to reach out to the students once they become a part of the University community. Reaching out to the students require several different elements including e-mails, telephone call and a personal letter. As it pertains to e-mails students should be sent e-mail correspondence a few days before the event actually occurs. Such correspondence allows them time to adjust their schedules, so they can attend a function. Likewise, a personal message is an important form of communication that can greatly assist students/confidence helping in becoming more involved in campus life. Other announcements should be placed on bulletin boards in dorms or other high-traffic areas. Although communicating with students in this manner does require a great deal of work, it is not an impossible endeavor.
Undergraduates are welcomed to the agenda when they are encouraged by student affair professionals to get involved in campus activities and in community activities. According to Colby et al (2003) "community service projects are of particular importance in most campus organizations" (p.134). Some students may not be as familiar with the importance of community service and the vital role that volunteers play in the context of a community. Making students aware of this particular agenda is vitally important as it informs the way they react to opportunities associated with community service. To this end professional must be sure to inform students of the benefits associated with community service and other types of community involvement.
Students, freshmen in particular have many issues that they face, for instance, adjusting to college life. In some ways, all of these new adjustments can prevent students from making the progress they need to make in becoming involved. In some instances, students do not get involved in such things because they are not aware that certain activities are occurring. Student's affairs professional cannot assume students will automatically get involved in other activities. In addition, depending on the size of the institution a student may be intimidated by all the activities and may not know where to start as it relates to involvement in activities. In the case of the student feeling intimidated, student affair professionals must make a concerted effort to engage students and assist them in understanding the importance of community and campus involvement.
Colby, A., Ehrlich, T., Beaumont, E., & Stephens, J. (2003). Educating citizens: Preparing America's undergraduates for lives of moral and civic responsibility (pp. 134,226,227). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.