How to Thrive in Student Affairs: Self-Directed Courses for New Professionals

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Student affairs divisions have been significantly affected by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic combined with societal shifts and cultural changes. That has resulted in a bandwidth issue in student affairs these days. Staff shortages, increased task lists, ever-expanding student needs and more have created a logjam. There’s not enough time, energy and expertise to go around. Yet, still, the work needs to get done — and done well.

That’s why we’ve created this series of Self-Directed Courses for New Student Affairs Professionals. Your new student affairs staff may be coming from non-higher ed backgrounds, without the benefit of previously learning about student affairs culture and those “need to know” details that can make them more successful. These courses allow new professionals to tap into any of these 18 self-directed mini courses to get up to speed, ready to best serve students, their departments and their institutions.

Helping Staff Members Thrive, One Course at a Time

Self-directed learning takes place in each person’s own way, on their own time. Within each of the 18 bulleted learning courses below, you’ll receive the following tools to help staff members thrive…

  • A 20-30-minute self-directed course that new professionals can go through on their own to gain more knowledge on key student affairs topic areas
  • Handouts, case study scenarios, self-work and a self-assessment to bring each topic vividly to life

Key Topics for Staff Development

Help your staff members gain needed knowledge, nuance and skill within each of the following topic areas…

  • Key Student Affairs Skills and Expertise. These basics make up much of the backbone of student affairs, setting staff members up for success.
    • Student Development Basics
    • Top 5 Supervision Strategies
    • Problem-solving in Higher Ed
    • Your Invaluable Role in Retention and Persistence
  • Student Engagement and Support. Our students and their needs are the main reason we’re here; let’s put them front and center.
    • Supporting Students’ Mental and Emotional Well-Being
    • Programming Post-COVID
    • Engaging and Motivating Students
    • Supporting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Efforts
    • Understanding Various Special Populations
    • Tapping into Executive Functioning Know-How
  • Compliance, Policies and Procedures. Today’s student affairs approach requires key policy, risk and procedural understanding to be as proactive as possible.
    • Understanding Title IX Basics
    • Handling Accessibility and Accommodations (ADA)
    • Free Speech in a Nutshell
    • Risk Management 101
  • Succeeding in Your New Role. When staff members insert themselves into the big picture, they become more invested, more collaborative and more able to thrive as part of your student affairs team.
    • Understanding the Student Affairs Context You’re Working In
    • Connecting Effectively with Your Supervisor
    • Making a Positive Name for Yourself on Campus
    • 10 Critical Skills You Need to Succeed in Higher Ed/Student Affairs

Plus, we’ll offer multiple best practice examples from a wide variety of campuses to illustrate points and offer ideas that work!

    Self-Directed Learning

    So, what exactly is self-directed learning? These 20-30-minute courses can be used by any new professional, anywhere and anytime. For instance…

    • As assigned by a supervisor after a one-on-one where a certain skillset is discussed
    • As part of staff training preparation – going through a course or two ahead of time so employees are ready for in-person training
    • At the end of a staff meeting, where everyone chooses a course to do independently during the last half-hour of the meeting
    • As assigned in-services throughout the year, to be done independently and then discussed in-person during a staff meeting or workshop
    • When a new professional feels they could use extra education on a certain topic, they’ll have these courses at the ready!

    Two Versions to Choose From

    1. Printed with Digital Download and Online Access – includes a printed copy of this resource as well as digital access to the enclosed materials and accompanying license to share with your campus community.  Price includes $9 shipping fee.

    2. Digital Download and Online Access Only – includes digital access to this resource and accompanying license to share with your campus community.

    Upon purchase, the instructions for downloading this resource will be immediately available. For questions, email

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