You are receiving this newsletter as a member of ACPA's Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
View this email in your browser
Pre-Convention Edition
Table of Contents:


Greetings from the Chair

Brian Hopkins Stony Brook University
Greetings! Every year at this time, I begin to get very excited for the upcoming ACPA Annual Convention and the chance to reconnect with colleagues from across the globe. The anticipation for the upcoming convention has had its usual impact on me this year, but has also affected me a bit differently. I will be ending my term as the Chair for the Standing Committee at the end of convention, and for the first time in 5 years will not hold an official leadership position within ACPA. As a result of this, I have been reflecting on the great experience I have had serving the Association for the past 5 years. What I have come to realize is how thankful I am for this experience, for all the connections I have made, and for truly finding a professional home at ACPA. I highly encourage all of you to seek out opportunities to get involved in ACPA and to get connected to the Association in some way. Check out all of the great opportunities offered by the different Commissions and Standing Committees. These are great ways to kick-off your involvement. Currently, we are accepting applications for both our directorate and for the ACPA Ambassador position. Please visit our website to learn more about these opportunities if you are interested. I promise you, you will not regret putting yourself out there and taking the opportunity to connect. I can honestly say that as a result of doing so myself 5 years ago, I am a different professional today.
For those of you who will be with us in Tampa, the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals has a great lineup of events and programs that we will be offering. Please check out all of our events by searching for our socials, sponsored programs, and our new Balance Breaks initiative. We would love to see you there and have the chance to connect in person for the brief time we are together. To highlight two of our signature events, our annual social sponsored by CAMPUSPEAK will be on Wednesday, March 4 at 8:00 p.m. in the Marriott Waterside Grille. Additionally, our annual Open Meeting will be on Friday, March 6 at 2:30 p.m. in Tampa Convention Center Room 37. I look forward to meeting many of you.

Transforming a Wish into Reality: A Call to Action for Cultivating Professional Relationships

Stephen Fleming University of Delaware
Joseph Bozzo Michigan State University

A recent study on new student affairs professionals focused on the ways in which master’s programs in higher education and student affairs should prepare graduate students for their upcoming professional transitions (Renn & Jessup-Anger, 2008). The findings of the study showcase key themes based on common challenges that new professionals face, one of which the authors coined “seeking sage advice.” As you meander through different relationships during your journey towards a career in student affairs, you will inevitably engage with a number of different professionals. Some may include professors, supervisors, and other members of a campus community. However, identifying a mentor whom you trust is a conscious decision that involves a level of commitment for both parties, the seasoned professional and the protégé.
The theme of seeking sage advice came about due to the noteworthy roles of mentors and supervisors during the transition process, as identified by new professionals (Renn & Jessup-Anger, 2008). This concept encompasses the benefits of guidance, support, and a safe sounding board during challenging transitional periods, as well as the importance of managing potential negative aspects of new supervisors or deficits of support persons in an environment that is less developmental than some new professionals might expect. The purpose of this article is to identify potential individual efforts and structured professional opportunities that can help new professionals in their efforts to seek sage advice. The three remaining themes are beyond the scope of this article, but still are worth mentioning: creating a professional identity, navigating a cultural adjustment, and maintaining a learning orientation.
Although seeking sage advice is especially valuable for those who are transitioning in their professional career, knowing how to best look to more seasoned practitioners for support and wisdom is a skill that can help almost any professional. The concepts of “internal leadership” and “self-directed learning” provide the foundation for an orientation toward professional development as one’s own responsibility and as something new professionals can take ownership of, rather than experience or receive as they might have as a student (Kegan, 1994 as cited in Renn & Jessup-Anger, 2008). When soliciting advice from mentors or supervisors, new professionals may benefit from seeking information on how to develop themselves professionally, rather than requesting that the advisor take an active role. Supervisors of new professionals can help facilitate a transition from “learning to know” to “learning to do,” a common area of growth in new professionals whose graduate programs may have focused more on theoretical principles than corresponding practical applications (Renn & Jessup-Anger, p. 330). The 2008 study showed that some new professionals had unrealistic expectations of supervisors and mentors and often struggled with work environments that emphasized job expectations more than employee development (Jessup-Anger, 2008). One recommendation that can come from this is to focus on learning about the variation in supervisory styles and strategies for cultivating mentor relationships.
Simply communicating with an elder professional does not substantiate a relationship which Renn and Jessup-Anger say yields “guidance, support, and a safe harbor during challenging periods” (2008). The dynamic must be built on an aligned intention and mutual trust. The pursuit of a true mentoring relationship may come naturally for some more than others. Fortunately, ACPA and the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals (SCGSNP) provide opportunities that foster communication and collaboration with established professionals within our ACPA community. With offerings for all levels from undergraduate students to new professionals, you are guaranteed to discover a professional with whom you can grow for years to come!

Next Gen: Taking place during  this year’s
conference on March 7th and 8th, ACPA’s 2015 Next Generation Conference will expose undergraduate students to the field of student affairs. Through the program, students will engage with current graduate students, graduate preparation program faculty, and seasons professionals. Space is limited so be sure to visit  to learn more!
ACPAGROW: If you are a graduate student or new professional looking to establish and grow a networking relationship, ACPAGROW  is for you! Using a cohort design, participants enter into the program during three points in the year which allows time for the program coordinator to provide an experience that is most beneficial for mentors and mentees. For more information, visit
Convention Colleagues: Additionally, SCGSNP offers an annual opportunity at conference. Whether it is your first time at annual conference or you are joining us again, Convention Colleagues is an opportunity you do not want to miss. This brief panel introduces you to ACPA leadership, as well as other seasoned professionals to jump start your conference experience and your career! If you are interested, let us know you are coming when you register for conference.
ACPA and our standing committee are committed to the professional development of new professionals and acknowledge that mentoring is a key component of it. It is never too late for an aspiring student affairs professional to start building their network that will guide their success. Renn and Jessup-Anger (2008) shed light on what new professionals wish they were taught in their graduate programs. What can you do to transform that wish into a reality for yourself or for others?
Our standing committee continues to maintain a learning orientation and welcomes any suggestions you may have to further your development. Should you have thoughts or ideas, we encourage you to communicate with us via our social media outlets on Facebook using ACPA SCGSNP or on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn using @SCGSNP.
Renn, K. A. & Jessup-Anger, E. R. (2008). Preparing new professionals: Lessons for graduate preparation programs from the National Study of New Professionals in Student Affairs. Journal of College Student Development, 49 (4), 319-335.

How to Get the Most Out of Attending a National Convention

 Dr. Dan Calhoun SCGSNP Faculty in Residence

For many graduate students and new professionals, attending a national convention can be a challenge both financially and professionally.  Many grads and entry-level staff may shy away from going to such a large event, since the combination of high costs and presence of major Student Development theorists and researchers can be intimidating.  However, if you are fortunate enough to have a supportive environment that allows for convention attendance, do not let these things turn you away from missing a wonderful professional development opportunity. There are ways to work around some of the travel and lodging expenses (sharing a room, travel grants and/or payment plans (like this one for grad students), driving instead of flying, etc.) and the well known folks who you might encounter are almost always approachable.
In short, if you have the chance to attend one of these larger level professional gatherings, I strongly encourage you to do so.  Below are some tips I have compiled from 15+ years of attending national conventions.  If you want to make the most out of your time, here are some things that I suggest you do:
1.)   Volunteer
One of the best ways to meet people and get the lay of the land while at a convention is to volunteer.  It takes many people to successfully plan and implement an event of this magnitude, and organizers are ALWAYS looking for new people to help. There are two main ways in which you should can volunteer your time as a grad student/new professional at a national convention:
a.     As a General Convention Volunteer – being a general volunteer means that you could help out almost anywhere – you might assist with check-in, sit at an informational table, help presenters get organized, etc.  The best part of this type of volunteer work is that you get to meet a lot of both new and seasoned professionals in a low risk environment – plus, you usually get some extra swag for your nametag!  (Here is the link if you are interested).
b.     At Career Central/Placement Center – what better way to learn the interview process than by helping out there BEFORE you actually interview?  Career Central can be an intimidating place if you do not understand how it works.  As a volunteer, you can help better understand the layout, communication system between candidate and employer, and other nuances of this process without any of the stresses associated with actually interviewing.  Trust me, when it is your turn to interview, you will be glad you volunteered in Career Central first! If you will be a candidate this year or are planning to search next year, this is a great way to network with colleagues across the country who may even be able to help you find your next position!
2.)   Attend the Opening Session and Featured Speakers
Often times national conventions bring in several featured speakers that have made a significant contribution to the field of higher education and student affairs.  Typically, there is an opening speaker, a closing speaker, and a few other speakers sprinkled in throughout the convention.  Due to travel schedules it can sometimes be difficult to get to see the speakers at the beginning and/or end of the convention, however, if it is at all possible you should really try to be there for these events.  The speakers are almost always recognized individuals who have some unique perspectives that both motivate you and challenge your thinking.  Past speakers include (but are not limited to) Mitch Albom, Al Gore,  Brené Brown, and George Stephanopoulos.  When would you ever get the chance to see individuals like these speaking directly on topics that are relevant to what you do?
In addition, the opening speaker is often part of a larger kick-off for the convention.  Think of it as kind of like a pep rally to get everyone excited about what will be happening over the coming days.  Side note - following the opening speaker, be on the lookout for hors d'oeuvres and other snacks for those of you on a tight budget! 
3.)   Diversify your sessions
Take the time to thoroughly review the convention schedule and diversify which sessions you choose to attend.  Some sessions allow you to explore topics that may be helpful to your institution or are related to your passion areas in the field, while others may be more geared to individual professional development and self-reflection. Also, do not be afraid to stretch yourself a little bit and attend a session that might be out of your comfort zone. 
If there are two sessions that you’d really like to attend that are being offered at the same time, chose the one that best fits your needs and follow up on the other later.  It is acceptable to contact the presenter(s) and see if they had any handouts or any takeaways from the presentation.
When attending a convention of this size, you may have a tendency to stay with your friends or colleagues and go to program sessions a group.  Try to avoid this practice – instead, spread yourselves out so you can attend several different sessions at once as a collective group.  Then, when you reconnect with your colleagues later at the convention or back on campus, you can share the knowledge learned and pool your respective resources. Programs are excellent opportunities for you to learn – take advantage of them in as many ways you can!
4.)   Attend a Standing Committee or Commission open meeting
Almost every professional organization has sub-committees and commissions that work to meet the needs of the various stakeholders within and outside of the field.  Some center their work around the various identities/populations within the profession (such as LGTBQ, students with disabilities, men/males, women/females, graduate students and new professionals, etc.) while others are focused on processes, policies, or functional areas within student affairs (for example Residential Life and Housing, Career Services, and Student Involvement).   All of the standing committees and commissions hold open meetings that anyone can attend.  These meetings are a great way for you to learn more about the goals and mission of the group, what priorities they are working toward, and how you can get involved.  Many times, it is the newest members that help drive the direction of these groups – so go and let your voice be heard!
5.)   Go to some evening activities
The convention can be a whirlwind during the day, so it is tempting for you to go to bed early.  While rest is important, take note of the events that are going on each night after the presentations and interviews have ended.  Most activities will be listed in the convention program, but other events might be announced over social media, at program sessions, or at standing committee/commission meetings.  These events can range from university socials for alumni and friends to comedy shows, dance parties, and other forms of entertainment.  These activities are both informative and fun, so try not to miss what happens when the sun goes down!
6.)   Find the appropriate balance between professional and fun
For many young professionals (and a few seasoned ones) finding the balance between being professional and having a good time can be a difficult task.  Understand that the convention is a time to learn and also a chance to network and catch up with friends and colleagues.  There will be many opportunities for you to socialize on a number of levels.  Make sure you are ready for these so that you can make good choices about your level of social interaction.  Student affairs is a small field and you never know who knows whom.  This can be both good and bad, so be sure you find the appropriate balance to show others that you are fun and have a personality, but that you know how to keep things professional.
7.)   Plan your days and scope out the locations of your sessions ahead of time.
In order for you to maximize your experience, make sure you look over the convention schedule ahead of time so you know what is going on and when.  Often the program guide will be available online before the convention, and if you wish to have a printed copy, they are usually available at check-in.  Please note that the printed version is often not as up-to-date as the electronic one, so keep that in mind when planning out your schedule.  Also, in an effort to encourage sustainability, there typically are not enough printed copies of the program guide for every attendee, so be green if you can!  
If you have time, familiarize yourself with the convention layout before you have to attend a session.  Some convention centers and hotels can be hard to navigate, and it would be a shame if you were late to or missed a session you really wanted to attend because you could not find the room!  Use the maps in the program handbook, online, and if you can, download the convention app (such as Guidebook) for your smart phone. Most conventions utilize this technology, and apps such as these have all of the information you will need and allow you to build your schedule so you can have it with you at all times.
8.)   Go to the Exhibitor Area and get some swag
Nearly every convention has a large area dedicated to sponsors and vendors (often referred to as Exhibitors) who are just waiting to meet you and give your free stuff.  Bring your business cards (conventions are one of the few places you actually will get to use them!) for drawings and to pass out to colleagues you may meet.  The exhibitor area also has several book displays where you can get free and/or reduced rates on current and seminal books in the field.  You may want to bring a bag with you, as it is likely you’ll walk away with some new pens, stress balls, t-shirts, and other free knick-knacks and swag.
9.)   Experience the Convention Location!
While it is important to attend sessions, network, and develop professionally, it is equally valuable that you also take advantage of the location of the convention.  Often, national conventions are in places that you may never been, so why not explore what the area has to offer both culturally and entertainment-wise?  If you are in New Orleans, check out Bourbon Street. While you are in San Francisco, take time to visit Alcatraz.  If the convention is in Atlanta, why not visit the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Coca-Cola Museum?  Sometimes the convention will provide a list of some opportunities to visit local landmarks (here’s the one for Tampa), but even if they do not, make sure you get out and see what the convention host city has to offer.
10.)  Embrace and Utilize Technology
      Get on the technology train!  Learning new ways to engage with technology can help you become a better professional.  Whether it is by following the Convention Blog, connecting via social media such as Twitter and Facebook, or attending Pecha Kucha sessions, conventions offer an opportunity to explore our profession in new and innovative ways. Taking part in live tweets and back channel discussions during the opening and closing sessions or while attending individual programs can be an incredible opportunity to enhance your convention experience, as it provides a more reflective and participative way for everyone to connect and learn.  Similarly, the Pecha Kucha presentations offer a new element to the traditional convention program format, as they allow participants to see a number of speakers and topics in short (6 minutes, 40 seconds) sessions.  Be sure to check them out if you have not yet done so - I am sure you will have the time!
Finally, connecting to the convention via social media not only expands your network, it can give you the inside scoop on upcoming special events, awesome promotions, and convention give-aways. Be forward-thinking and have some fun at the same time.
These are just a few of the tips and recommendations I have for you to maximize your experience at a national convention.  As with anything, your experience will be what you make it - just be sure you do not forget all you learn at convention when you return back to campus! 
Dr. Jason Laker SCGSNP Faculty in Residence
My colleague, Dr. Dan Calhoun and I are serving as the 2014-15 SCGNP Faculty-in-Residence.  We are looking forward to seeing our early career colleagues in Tampa.  Dr. Calhoun shared his thoughts and advice about the value of attending and actively participating in the national conference (of course, his good advice is equally applicable to regional and state conferences too).  As I prepare to attend my 22nd annual ACPA conference (That seems bizarre to me…just yesterday I was a Hall Director attending my first one, but I digress), I fully concur with what he shared and my experience over the past two decades resonates.  I remember my first ACPA (1993) and rooming with a friend at a rather ratty motel far off sight and renting a tiny clown car to get to the convention center.  I recall being intimidated by the sea of people who seemed to know their way around the conference and association.  However, attending sessions, volunteering, showing up to Standing Committee and Commission meetings, and the various things Dr. Calhoun recommends did indeed help me ground myself into the situation effectively.  In short, he’s right, and you should listen to him!
I’d like to add to Dr. Calhoun’s advice by suggesting ways to get and give the most to your ACPA membership and a conference experience from a long-term perspective.  In one sense, I’m talking about networking and career planning, but I want to approach this topic in a way that specifically avoids the frenzied connotations associated with these words.  Very often, especially at the beginning of our careers, we get into a habit of trying to meet people who hold advanced positions in the field, in the hope that they can help with our own advancement aspirations.  Similarly, we often join committees and other activities motivated by how it may look on our résumés.  These habits are understandable, but short sighted.  This approach is superficial and uninspiring, fostering primarily instrumental relationships between colleagues and with our work.  I am advocating for a more ambitious and inspiring approach to our career and professional relationships.  Put simply, we should take the time and care to meet as many people as possible because it’s fun to make friends, and we should join or participate in activities because they are interesting and meaningful.  This may seem obvious, but I confess to pursuing the former approach for several years before finally realizing that it was a grind I no longer cared to continue. 
Those who know me are aware of my fondness for the book, “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo.  Before you get worried, let me say that the thing I most appreciate about the protagonist, Don Vito Corleone, is that even as a young person, when he was a new immigrant to the U.S., he always believed in friendship.  He made friends with many people regardless of their eminence or financial status.  His long-sighted vision convinced him that if one concentrates on helping others and building relationships, that there will always be opportunities or people to help you out of a pickle in the future.  Obviously that book includes more, shall we say “heavy-handed” elements too, but the wisdom associated with being reasonable and relational offers countless dividends.  I have needed partners for collaborative projects, advice on solving conflicts, help with job searches, and referrals for activities such as consulting and writing over the years, and I have been very fortunate to have so many good people—friends and colleagues—available to help when needed.  Similarly, I have found a lot of joy and satisfaction in offering mentoring and political analysis to others, and working with an enormous diversity of people on various professional activities.
So, making an intentional choice to participate in activities simply because we find them engaging, something significant happens.  I was on that treadmill of trying to make sure certain boxes were checked in my experiences, based on my perception of what would look good on résumés or in job interviews.  Once I deliberately focused on activities just because they were fun and interesting, it turned out that my résumé grew faster.  The reason is very simple.  When we approach projects, committees, etc. this way, we tend to exude genuine enthusiasm, show up on time and prepared, and in general give our collaborators a great experience of us.  Then, when they all go off onto other projects and need to recruit help, they tend to think of us as great prospects.  Our reputation as solid and positive colleagues gets around, and I found that I had many more opportunities than I could possibly pursue.  And, with this came the calm confidence to say no to things, which produced better balance and support for 
Despite the common experience of feeling lost in the sea of conference attendees, the fact is that our field is actually quite small.  The longer we work in Student Affairs, the more connected we are with others.  For example, immediate past president of ACPA, Dr. Kathleen Kerr and I worked together at the University of Delaware in the mid-90s.  Dr. Keith Humphrey, ACPA President in 2012-13 was a Hall Director when he and I worked together at the University of Arizona in the late 90s.  At that time, Greg Roberts, former ACPA Executive Director, was the VPSA at the University of Saint Thomas and President of ACPA.  I had the pleasure of serving on his Executive Committee from 1999-2000.  As you prepare to go to the conference in Tampa, I urge you to give yourself permission to be social without agenda.  Attend open business meetings of Commissions and Standing Committees, go to sessions on topics that you don’t have much experience in, and approach fellow attendees to ask if you can join them for coffee, lunch, a chat, or whatever.  I adopted many mentors this way, and learned a lot of things that would have been hidden from me if I just focused on my résumé.  Now, more than 20 years into my career, I feel very comfortable in, and familiar with our field, and definitely very connected and surrounded by friends.  I invite you to get off the résumé treadmill and enjoy fellow conference attendees regardless of what title or school is listed on their name badges, and get serious about having fun in the field.

If you have any other questions or want additional advice, please be sure to contact either of the SCGSNP Faculty in Residence at the addresses below:
Dr. Dan Calhoun: @calhoundan OR   
Dr. Jason Laker: @jasonlakertweet OR                
Hope to see you in Tampa!
The following are the SCGSNP Sponsored Programs being held at our 2015 Tampa Convention: 
  • Academic Writing and Publishing: Tips for Graduate Student Success
  • Becoming an Integrative Practitioner-Scholar: Theory, Practice, Politics, and Scholarship
  • Dynamic Departments: How to Adapt in a Changing Environment
  • Job 1, Job 2, Job 3, Oh My...Exploring the Not-So-Perfect-Anymore Career Trajectory
  • New Job, New City, Now What?
Hope to see you at our Social!
The deadline for to be a member of the next cohort for ACPA Ambassadors is April 12, 2015! Don't miss out on this great experience! Please contact Dale O'Neill at for more information.

Dear Job Search: A Few Reminders for #SAGrads and their #SASearch

Crystal Hamilton Valdosta State University

Oh job search, I avoided you two years ago when I graduated from undergrad and decided to attend grad school but there is no avoiding you now because I am NOT mentally ready for my doctorate or any other degree right now! More power to those who are! This is time where people out of the field keep asking “have you put in any applications?” and those in the field keep asking “What focus areas are you looking for? Are you location specific? I’ll send positions your way.” It can be a very nerve-racking time but so many before you have gotten through it and you will too. Easy for me to say though, not fully knowing really anyone’s situation but my own. Remember, things have a way of working out. Sometimes not necessarily for the best, but they work themselves out and can lead to be great teaching tools for later! I honestly think the most important thing to do is stay calm and level headed. Again easy for me to say but there are three things that can assist in doing this: Self-Care, Being Patient and Staying Focused.
  1. Self-Care – Specifically making sure you are happy and not over stressed. This can look however you see fit. Whether that is hours in the gym each week or my personal favorite, hours playing video games each week. Do something that decompresses you and makes you feel happy. I remember going through the internship search last year. I would wake up and play video games. This helped clear my mind before a day of multiple interviews. What helps you clear your mind? In undergrad on days I felt I was becoming too much of an over stressed, over involved student I would go to the beach and listen to the waves. My undergrad was pretty close to the beach so this made it easy. My parents always taught me the importance of making sure you are the keeper of your own happiness and what better time than today to make sure you can do that.
  2. Be Patient - I know, easier said than done but being patient is important. Yes, there are tons and tons of qualified candidates applying for positions and YOU are one of them! However everyone’s circumstances are different. If you are location locked to one city with very few institutions than it may difficult to be patient if you have cohort members who are interview in January but remain patient. Your position will come. Do not try to rush your process or accept interviews from institutions that are not where you want to be or what you really want. You will get a job and you will have an awesome learning experience.
  3. Stay Focused – You are still a student, you are still a GA, and yes you should still be applying for jobs but obsessing on finding a job by a certain time can block you from opportunities outside of your “Find a Job by X Date” Tunnel Vision. Please stay focused in your GAs and in class. The information and experience received in both will assist you in your first position. Let us not forget why we are in graduate school. Though our professors are understandable if we have interviews/on-campuses, it is not wise to completely blow off assignments. We are here to learn and gain experiences. Make sure you give your academic, personal, and professional lives enough attention.
Think about yourself and your happiness, remain patient and stay focused. Very easy things to do in theory but they are extremely important. Make sure you use your support systems. But of course, enjoy this journey. You’ll have great stories to tell! So buckle up for your ride!

A Trip Across the Pond: The Crisis of Purpose in UK and US Higher Education
Joshua Riedel Taylor University

     A recent two-week study tour in the United Kingdom as part of a comparative higher education course provided me with valuable insight into the similarities and differences of US and UK higher education. One of the key differences is higher education in the UK is typically three years and much more specialized, as all students come in their first year already committed to a particular field of study. “Undeclared” freshmen and the liberal arts approach so common in the US are a rarity in the UK. Additionally, UK higher education is more utilitarian and focused on the individual good. Some might argue higher education in the US is becoming more utilitarian and primarily for individual social mobility, but there still remains some emphasis on higher education as a pursuit for the common good. Despite stark foundational differences between the two systems, over the course of the trip I began to notice an underlying similarity that frankly is somewhat troubling. Higher education in the UK seems to be undergoing a crisis of purpose, and this same crisis is quickly becoming more of a reality here in the United States.

     This crisis of purpose is perhaps best seen in the way two significant ranking systems, the National Student Survey (NSS) and the league tables, drive institutional policy and decisions. The NSS is administered at the end of a student’s time at university and focuses on student satisfaction. The league tables are more comprehensive and focus on varying aspects of university that fall under the umbrella categories of graduate prospects, student staff ratio, and research assessment. Almost every institution we visited mentioned at least one of these ranking systems, and both were mentioned countless times at a conference we attended as well. However, almost every time these ranking systems were discussed there was mention of the flawed nature of both systems and frustration regarding their use. Most people who mentioned these rankings were also paired with an acknowledgement that both the NSS and league tables carry immense weight and, therefore, cannot be ignored. 

     Administrators at one institution, which had the highest NSS score in the UK two years in a row, made this very acknowledgement and implied the NSS only matters if you are ranked high. Institutions tend not to “advertise” their ranking unless it is high enough to garner wanted attention. In one session at the conference the conversation quickly shifted to the league tables and many individuals spoke with a cynical tone as they discussed their frustration with the system. Higher education institutions in the UK seem to be in a catch twenty-two of sorts because of these ranking systems. Most recognize the inherent flaws in these rankings and would love nothing more than to acknowledge them for what they are and instead put time and resources into more fruitful endeavors. However, if an institution fails to put effort into moving toward, or maintaining, a top position in the rankings, any hope of placing energies into something more worthwhile will be lost. UK higher education institutions have found themselves in a place of confused purpose, and the hopes of re-discovering a purpose beyond the rankings does not look bright.

     The more I reflected on the crisis of purpose in many UK institutions, the more I realized a similar crisis is present in US higher education. Current ranking systems such as Forbes or US News and World Report drive enrollment trends as prospective students and parents seek these guides to inform decisions. Institutions proudly wave banners celebrating a number one ranking for x number of years in a row, while behind closed doors administrators sarcastically joke about the arbitrary nature of that very ranking system. While maybe not as extreme yet, US higher education is on the brink of a crisis of purpose as well. Institutions of higher education in the US, along with those in the UK, must pay attention to their ranking systems as they drive student enrollment, and without students universities cannot exist for any purpose.

     As I am about to graduate and begin the job searching process, I am both discouraged and hopeful. I am discouraged because I see US higher education following in the footsteps of the UK, with more and more weight given to seemingly arbitrary ranking systems that most administrators know do not truly reflect institutional quality. Institutions are slowly placing more value on climbing the “rankings ladder” rather than focusing on institutional mission and purposes and the pursuit of the common good. However, my experience in the UK left me feeling hopeful about US higher education, because we have not yet crossed the point of no return that UK institutions seem to have crossed. Significant opportunities still exist for institutions to remain faithful to a mission and vision that transcend rankings. I hope educators, young and old, experienced and inexperienced, will refuse to succumb to a fruitless chase for institutional “prestige” and hold fast to a greater purpose in pursuit of the common good.
SCGSNP Program of the Month Winners
This season leading up to our Tampa convention, the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals (SCGSNP) has chosen to recognize outstanding programs created/coordinated by graduate students and/or new professionals that have been innovative, impactful, or unique to its institution and/or the field of Student Affairs. These are our past winners from last semester:
Congratulations to October 2014's Program of the Month Award Winners: (pictured left to right) Austin Martin, Michael Henry, Kacey Schaum, Frank March, and Jessica Head. All from University of Alabama in Huntsville for their "Take a Break!" program
November/December 2014's Program of the Month Award Winners: Pictured here from left to right is: Meghan Morris, Jen Van Ewyk, Kathy Jicisnky. All from Miami University for their Generative Listening Workshop program
Winter Case Study Teams Excel
Phil Rathosky, SCGSNP Professional Development Coordinator
This year’s virtual Winter Case Study competition, sponsored by ACPA’s Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professions, saw six teams from a variety of institutions compete to solve a complex problem within Higher Education. The team of Carter Gilbert (Lehigh University), Maria Marinucci (University of Scranton) and Daniel Haddad (Baylor University) took first place in the competition. The team, along with five other teams representing several institutions nationwide, provided a video response to a fictitious case dealing with sexual assault and Title IX mandates – a very relevant and discussed topic in higher education today. Congratulations to Carter, Maria, and Daniel on a job well done! 

Lessons Learned as a Road Warrior

Lauren Reidy University of South Carolina

If you had the opportunity to live out of two suitcases for one year and travel thousands of miles by yourself for the sole purpose of helping an organization or movement that you strongly believe in, would you? Every year, over one hundred men and women become Leadership Consultant road warriors to work closely with undergraduate students in an effort to grow, challenge, shape, and assist the fraternity and sorority life movement on college campuses across the country. I spent one year in this role and learned so much about myself, leadership, and life. These lessons have served me well in my work as a current #SAGrad and future #SAPro. The purpose of this article is to highlight the lessons I learned as a Leadership Consultant that can benefit graduate students and professionals in higher education.
Laugh it Off and Keep a Positive Attitude
Seriously! As a native of St. Petersburg, Florida (also known as the Sunshine City), earlier this year I found myself shoveling my rental car out of knee-deep snow during the Snowpocalypse in West Chester, Pennsylvania. My luggage was lost a couple times and there was one time where I was stuck at an airport for nine hours. Life on the road has taught me that we must laugh and “shake it off” like Taylor Swift suggests (Swift, Martin, & Shellback, 2014, track 6). Plans do not always go the way they are supposed to – maybe the comedian gets sick, the speaker missed his flight, or only four students show up to a program you expected at least 50 students to attend. When faced with obstacles, I have learned to not dwell on things I cannot control and to keep a smile on my face no matter the circumstance.
Speak Up and Communicate Effectively
While starting a new chapter at a public institution, I was on the front line for several weeks. I juggled over 20 officer positions in addition to my own job duties. Finally, I acknowledged my need for support and spoke with my superiors about my concerns. They sent assistance to me as soon as they could. Looking back, I recognize I should have asked for help sooner. Jobs in Student Affairs require so much of us and the duty that seems to take the most time is “other duties as assigned.” I learned that if I have a question, am unsure how to perform a task, or am not in favor of a program, I need to speak up. Effective communication should occur interchangeably between employers and employees as well as within department teams. In order to build trustworthy relationships and produce successful events, programs, or processes for our students, we must communicate early and often.  
A Healthy Lifestyle – It’s Your Choice
One of the greatest illusions about working in higher education is work-life balance. Yeah, whatever that means. As a road warrior, my body and health changed a lot. In the fall, I worked 12+ hour days, slept an average of five hours a night, got bronchitis, experienced a break-up, and was losing weight. Fast-forward to the spring, I was 20 pounds heavier but sleeping more, working fewer hours, and much closer with family and friends. I began to enjoy running and did yoga twice a week. I learned that I need to make time for me. It is important to intentionally thread hobbies and pleasures into our lives every day, and I did so by scheduling time on my calendar to pursue things I love to do. Whether that means reading, praying, lifting weights, catching up with family, playing a sport in a local sport’s league, or volunteering – we must prioritize our own needs so that we have the energy to take good care of others.
These are only three of the many lessons I learned as a road warrior. By laughing it off and keeping a positive attitude, speaking up and communicating effectively, and realizing the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we can enjoy long and successful careers in higher education.
Swift, T., Martin, M., and Shellback. (2014). Shake it off [Recorded by Taylor Swift]. On 1989 [CD]. Nashville, TN: Big Machine Records.

#YouMatter: How One Hashtag Can Change a Life 

Matt Bonder University of South Carolina

     Recent headlines such as “Cyberbullying on the Rise” (Brown, 2014) and “Student Jumps to his Death” (Hagen, 2014), demonstrate that many college students are hurting. What can we do as student affairs professionals to ensure that our campuses are a welcoming and safe place for all students? Although the answer to this question is complex, my belief is that one simple hashtag, #YouMatter, can be used to remind students that who they are and what they do matters. By validating our students and providing them with support and guidance they need, we can positively impact our students’ lives.

     Angela Maiers (2012) is the brains behind the #YouMatter philosophy. In her “#YouMatter Manifesto,” she includes eight points, which include: “You are enough; you have influence; you are a genius; you have a contribution to make; you have a gift that others need; your actions define your impact; you are the change; and finally, you matter” (Maiers, 2012, para. 4-27). If we are to let our students know they matter we must also internalize that we matter as well, and sometimes we get so caught up in work, that we forget to remind ourselves that who we are and the work we do matters. So, first, I want you to know that #YouMatter. You are doing great work with students; you have bought in and are getting your hands dirty. You are helping plant the seeds for students’ future success, and for that you should know that you are enough.

     The #YouMatter manifesto isn’t unfounded. In fact, a joint report by the Gallup Organization and Purdue University (Gallup-Purdue Index, 2014) on the long-term impact of relationships between students and college professionals during their time in college. The report found that workers who felt ‘supported’ in college by a professor or student affairs professional were close to three times more likely to be thriving at work than their colleagues who did not feel supported while on campus (Gallup-Purdue Index, 2014, p. 7). This reinforces the fact that the work we do on college campuses helps prepare students for their future. We must continue to encourage students to take risks and find their passion while providing the opportunity to reflect as they pursue their goals.

     I know first-hand the impact that one person can make. Going from being the proverbial big fish in a small pond during high school, I entered college in the city of Boston alone, lost, and desperately wanting to fit in. Fortunately, I had an advisor who saw a glimmer of potential in me after a brief conversation at a welcome week event. She subsequently asked me to serve on a panel charged with reviewing my academic program. When I arrived it quickly became apparent that I was the only first-year student in a room that was otherwise filled with student orientation leaders and graduating students who had been admitted to professional schools. Simply being asked to attend the meeting with these student leaders I admired gave me confidence. My mentor made a profound difference in my life and made me feel like I mattered.

     As student affairs professionals, one of the most powerful questions we have at our disposal is, “Have you ever thought about ____?” For example, when I was mentoring second-year students in my fraternity who had great leadership potential – I asked them “Have you ever thought about running for an Executive Board position?” This question immediately ignited a chance in these students and laid the groundwork for them to become leaders and eventual Presidents of the organization. Believing in others and telling them that they matter is so powerful. When I left Boston both students pulled me aside to tell me that if it weren’t for my support, they never would have accomplished so much during college.

     By letting our students know that they matter and encouraging them to pursue leadership opportunities, student affairs professionals have the potential to give students the tools, skills, and confidence to leave the university and change the world. My charge to you is to make time each day to let students know #YouMatter.

It's on Us: Using the National Campaign to Educate and Empower Students

Katie Dignan James Madison University 
In September of 2014, the Obama administration unveiled a new initiative aimed at ending sexual assault on college campuses.  The It’s On Us campaign was one of several steps taken by the White House to address the growing issue of sexual assault on college campuses, and its message is simple: sexual assault prevention is everyone’s responsibility.  When announcing the new initiative, President Obama declared that “it is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.”[1]  The crux of the initiative is a simple, four step pledge:
  1. To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
  2. To identify situations where sexual assault could occur.
  3. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
  4. To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.[2]   
 After signing the pledge, participants can watch educational videos, gain tips on how to prevent sexual assault, and find new ways to connect with the campaign.  Many celebrities, businesses, and organizations have thrown their support behind the initiative, and the movement is encouraging honest conversations about sexual assault on college campuses around the country.
            As a hall director in a first-year residence hall, I am always seeking new ways to educate and engage my residents.  When I learned about the It’s On Us campaign, I knew that I wanted to bring the campaign and its message to my students.  I crafted an educational program around the campaign, and I was impressed by the meaningful conversation that occurred among the residents in attendance. 
So how can you utilize this campaign on your campus?  I found that introducing the pledge to students is an easy way to start the discussion.  The pledge delves into several content areas, and I developed questions based around consent, campus culture, and bystander intervention.  Some possible questions could include:
  1. What is consent?  When can consent not be given?
  2. How can you intervene when someone is in danger?
  3. What resources are available to survivors on our campus?
 Another great way to get students involved with the campaign is to make an It’s On Us video.  The website is full of star-studded examples, and it’s a fun and active way to get students connected with the campaign’s message.  My residents really enjoyed participating in the movie-making process, and the video has allowed me to share the campaign’s message with residents who did not attend the program.
The It’s On Us campaign is a fantastic resource for student affairs professionals that can easily be incorporated into a program, training, or class.  It’s on us to educate our students about sexual assault and to help them develop the skills needed to successfully intervene in dangerous situations.  This is an important and challenging task, and the It’s On Us campaign is a great place to start. For more information, and to access the numerous resources provided by the campaign, go to
[1] Tanya Somanader, “President Obama Launches the “It’s On Us” Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campus,” The White House Blog,
Your text caption goes here
YOU'RE writing it? WE want to feature it! CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The 8th Vector is a Newsletter sponsored by the Standing Committee of Graduate Students and New Professionals within ACPA. The 8th Vector is a wonderful resource to our members as it shares with fellow Student Affairs professionals trending topics and best practices. As student affairs professionals, we know that there are a vast array of topics that articles can be written about, articles typically relate to: 
  • Lessons Learned - Centered on experiences of transformational learning in relation to being a new professional or graduate student
  • Trends and Best Practices - Reveals current trends or practices that new professionals or graduate students are embarking on
  • Research - Focuses on innovative research occurring in the field
  • “Dear Colleague” - This session will be modeled after the infamous “Dear Abbey” section of the newspaper.  If you volunteer for this session, you will answer a hypothetical question of your choice in the hopes to share insight and advice.
  • SCGSNP Spotlight – Serves as an opportunity for SCGSNP members and/or initiatives to be highlighted
  • Alumni Corner - Know an Alumni of SCGSNP?  How about interview them and write an article about it?
  • ACPA Commission/Committee Spotlight: This portion will serve to inform on the initiatives that fellow ACPA Commissions and Committees are embarking on. 
Authors of 8th Vector articles include: current graduate students and new professionals, experienced professionals, as well as SCGSNP directorate members.  Thus, all are welcomed to submit an article! Past issues of the 8th Vector can be reviewed here:
You can email your submission to!
If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions for The 8th Vector, please don't hesitate to contact one of your 8th Vector Editors: Michelle Leeper (meleeper@valdosta.eduand Torey Stockwell (
Copyright © 2015 GSNP, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp