Competency A

Competency A: Knowledge and Understanding of Higher Education and Student Affairs

In order to affect positive change in higher education, it is important to understand the context of the institution, look back at the history of the field, the various functional areas and their purposes, and assemble a cohesive awareness of the potential directions and trends for higher education. This understanding includes gathering a sense of the challenges that face all institutions of higher learning in the United States, such as the systems of privilege and oppression that students and society battle, as well as the potential directions that higher education may head in the coming decades. Developing a keen “knowledge and understanding of higher education and student affairs” is the first step toward becoming a competent professional in the field. The College Student Services Administration program, plus my pervious experience in higher education outside of student services, has provided the foundation for a lifetime of learning and contextual appreciation of students, learning, and higher education.

Knowledge and understanding connects also to my personal concept of doubt and wonder, in that engaging with the full scope of the field generates doubt in my ability to ever get a complete grasp of the whole, complex system. I sit in wonder at the various dimensions of understanding I am able to address the more I experience, in various internships and my assistantship, and the more knowledge I gain, in and out of the classroom. I have faith that, although in these two years of investigating higher education and student affairs deeply I have only scratched the surface of what there is to know, I will have a working knowledge of what I must know to be a successful practitioner. And I continue learning more each and every day and with each and every student I encounter.

The following are aspects of competency A on which I have written individual reflections. Please click on an aspect to go directly to the post:

  1. Articulate knowledge of historical and philosophical underpinnings of past and current issues shaping the field of student affairs and the student experience
  2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the range, scope, and roles of different functional areas within higher education
  3. Understand the primary challenges and opportunities being presented to student affairs professionals
  4. Understand systems of privilege and oppression and the impact of these on institutional systems or organizations
  5. Identify goals, trends, and key issues related to the future of the student affairs profession
  6. Identify legal issues that impact higher education, field of student affairs, institutional policy and the student experience

2 Responses to “Competency A”

  1. Jeff M says:

    well said, especially the bit about “doubt & wonder” and only having “scratched the surface.”

  2. Anne Lapour says:

    It’s definitely one of these experiences of “the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.” Plus, I think the context and history changes so much by institution, or even type of institution. I’ve worked at tiny liberal arts schools all the way to major Land Grant schools, and the context and systems change each time. “Doubt and wonder” are certainly in effect here!

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