Five Regions of Responsibility for the Office of Student Affairs
- Campus Life and Activities
- Admissions and Guidance for Students
- Alumni Relations
- Student Health and Wellness
While the number of different services and discrete administrative positions that make up the student affairs office varies based on the size of an educational institution, every college and university in the U.S. has one. In fact, studying and improving the many functions and services these offices fulfill for students is an area of study in its own right. This article explores those services and areas of enrichment, providing some insight into the role these professionals play in the college experience for students across the country.
1. Life on Campus
Whether it's a small liberal arts college or an enormous research university, any institution with a physical campus functions much like any human community. The Office of Student Affairs is granted both the responsibility and the latitude to ensure that daily interactions are peaceful and productive for every student. They craft and administer the rules for behavior, possess oversight for judging infractions, hire and direct campus law enforcement officers, organize community activities, negotiate and interact with various Greek organizations, plan extra and intramural sporting activities, and much more. Maintaining an active, harmonious, and beneficial learning and living environment for students is one of their primary functions.
2. From Admissions to Academic Advisement
With so many students seeking various degree requirements, the Student Affairs Offices of many colleges employ a full retinue of advisors for several areas of concern. Whether it pertains to meeting criteria for admission to the university or involves guiding students towards their academic goals, this area of responsibility may appear to be a collegiate entity all its own. According to an essay by Dhanfu E. Elston, These professionals are key to assisting students in their quest to complete college and move on to offer value and services to their world.
3. Flying the Nest
Because college communities are like any other human gathering, alumni relations are also a vital consideration for the professionals in the Student Affairs Office. They maintain connections with students who have completed degree programs, invite them to continue to participate in college life via donations or social events, and beneficially leverage the skill sets of former students to benefit current students through mentorship and community service. However, they also provide career counseling and support, information and references for former students, maintaining the benefits of a university education even after graduation.
4. A Diverse Experience
Students come from many different backgrounds. The Office of Student Affairs is tasked with creating and administering a variety of programs to meet the needs of all students and ensure a respectful, nurturing cultural environment. The officers are also responsible for ensuring that students with specific physical needs are met with accessible classrooms, support pertinent to their life needs, and educational programs that successfully incorporate their experience into the curriculum through various media or pedagogical support programs. International students and culturally diverse student bodies are also supported by the office's efforts so that a harmonious and inclusive experience is available to every person. Additionally, they organize faith-based services for a variety of belief systems, so that each student may seek support through the religious institution most familiar to them.
5. Student Mind and Body
While career services are technically included in this portion of their mission, Student Services also provide both physical and mental health care to students. This may take the form of counseling to assist individuals with the vital life decisions for which they are suddenly responsible. It also provides a vital outlet for students who seek to balance the pressures of academia with interpersonal relationships and the requirements of employment. Students also have affordable treatment options for physical illness and injury, which provides substantial support to their mental wellbeing.
It's important to remember that even institutions that specialize in distance learning operate only virtual classrooms also have administrative specialists that ensure a positive and meaningful experience for their students. This provision is essential for any organization of higher education—admitting and counseling students, managing disputes, and ensuring that the needs of diverse student bodies are met on a daily basis is a full-time job. The Student Affairs Office makes attaining a higher education possible by facilitating the progress of each student and maintaining order on campuses across the U.S. and cyberspace.