Since we last spoke, the six-month anniversary of my shift to independent work has come and gone. There are moments in the past six months that have felt like incredible triumphs, and just as many (in fact, likely more) where I’ve felt lost, confused, and wondered if things were going to work out. But one thing hasn’t wavered: this was the right decision for me. Doing the work that I really enjoy, in this fashion, was how I was meant to work. Most anyone who I’ve spoken to since this journey began, has heard me say that.
But now, I want to hear and share more stories like this. Judging by the popularity of last week’s released article, Attrition from Student Affairs Perspectives from Those Who Exited the Profession, there is a lot of curiosity in this area about alternative options and what drives people to select them. While the assumption is that people leaving do so for different fields altogether, there are some that select what I like to call “higher education-adjacent” roles.
There are a great many ways to work with students and facilitate their success; campus-based, student-facing positions are not the only way to make an impact on student lives. Have you chosen to take an alternative path – a move to the K-12 space? Independent consultancy? Association work? Auxiliary company that creates products or services for higher education? I want to talk to you, and in turn allow you to talk to others.
*If you’ve left student affairs or higher education, and then come back, your perspective is also welcome!
What Am I Looking For?
While I won’t be policing what is shared, I’m interested in answers to some of the following:
- What were you doing before you “defected”?
- What factors, internal and/or external, contributed to the change you eventually made?
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts about the work you do now?
- What challenges do you see facing student affairs or higher education, from where you sit now? Any ideas on what changes could help improve the student experience or the outcomes we wish to see?
- A question I get often that I’m genuinely curious about: would you ever go back? What would it take?
- If you have left and then returned, what informed that decision?
You can submit however you’re most comfortable: 500-750 word blog post? Cool! Video diary? Awesome. Comic/doodle/art piece? I’d love it! I want to incorporate as many different perspectives, in as many different formats, as possible.
Recognizing that this can be an acrimonious or emotional topic for some, I’m assigning a tone of “constructive venting” for the pieces I hope to publish. That is to say, I want you to be authentic about any frustrations that might have contributed to the change you made, but also seek to be hopeful about what this experience taught you, and how it could inform changes to the field, the nature of the relationships in it, and the overall structures that govern the work. Make sense? If not, let me know- I’ll elaborate.
What’s In It For Me?
First, the material element: I’m vocal about not believing in writing for exposure; as such, I stand by the idea that those who choose to share their stories should be compensated. Those writers whose posts are selected (I’m aiming to publish ten posts between August 1st and September 1st, 2016) will get $25 for their contributions. The how, when, and whatnot will be discussed with those contributors whose posts are selected.
As or also important, I want to start a conversation around what student affairs and higher education perceives in the act of “defection.” I’ve written about this before, but will encapsulate my stance thusly: there are a lot of ways to do this work, and there are a lot of “whys” for wanting to do this work. Expecting only one model (campus-based, student centered work) to properly encompass all the ways we work best, doesn’t make sense. What’s more, diverse perspectives make the field and the impact we have on students richer.
Furthermore, for those seeking to enter the field, it’s important to know that there are options. Feel like your talents are well utilized in an educator role with an association, helping vet and recruit talent at a college- serving agency, in the K-12 classroom with eyes on what they’ll need to succeed once arriving at our gates, or building and promoting a product that serves the students you got into this work to help? All those pathways are legitimate. I want to collect an array of posts that prove that.
Submissions for this series are now closed, but I hope you enjoy the stories of those who’ve contributed!
Wanna Be A Part of It?
If you’re interested, and have a story you want to share, please sign up here for more details. I’ll be accepting pitches until Friday, June 17th at 5pm ET– those selected to generate their pitched pieces will hear from me by Monday, June 20th at 5pm ET. And as I mentioned above, pieces will appear at ammamarfo.com twice a week between August 1st and September 1st.