Sunday, April 27, 2014

So, You Have an #SAgrad in Your Life - Now What?

Note: This, of course, does not necessarily apply to ALL #SAgrads, and does not necessarily apply to JUST #SAgrads, so take my sarcastic advice with a grain of salt. :)

Student Affairs graduate students are going through a unique stage in life. They've entered a part of their academic career that may not have been part of their master life plan. After the required 13 years of pre-college education and the expected minimum of 3-5 years of undergraduate experience, they're back in the classroom for, at the very least, another 1-2 years before being able to pursue a full-time position in the Student Affairs field. Most of the time, it's in addition to balancing multiple part-time positions, assistantships, and internships, and for the brave, in addition to raising children and maintaining a healthy relationship or marriage. If you can imagine, it can be a pretty sensitive and emotional time.

So, how do you deal with the #SAgrad* or #SAdoc** in your life? Since I'm about half way through my #SAgrad experience, I'm in a position to hand over some do's and don'ts to those who may not be familiar with what these students go through. Hopefully this list can help you better understand your crazy-busy, high-strung, over-tired, crushingly-passionate, emotional rollercoaster of an #SAgrad!

DO be understanding of their busy schedule. Trust us, we want to see you and miss you just much as you miss us, but our schedules tend to swallow us whole and 3 months can go by in a blink of an eye. Quick coffee and lunch dates or joining us for a low-key movie night (if you don't mind us studying or checking emails throughout) may be your best bet to hang out with us in the middle of the semester.

DON'T (or try not to) get upset if they have to break plans. Our schedules also tend to change frequently, and honestly, our studies and jobs are taking priority during our time in grad school. If  we're feeling overwhelmed with assignments, we may favor a night of homework over a night of fun (weird, right?). If we are presented with an awesome professional opportunity like presenting to a group of undergrads or going to a drive-in conference, we may ask you to reschedule. Remember that we still love and care about you and would love to be spending time with you instead of working, and we'll be sure to make it up to when our schedule isn't so crazy and unpredictable!

DO humor them and listen to their ramblings & rants about the field. Graduate students are passionate about their field (otherwise, they wouldn't be voluntarily going to more school). This is especially true for #SAgrads. We can often go off on long-winded tangents about different issues surrounding college students and higher education, especially when an issue strikes particularly close to home. (That's why a lot of us have blogs. :P) Sometimes we won't be able to get it off our mind unless we tell someone about it, and it's usually the people we're closest to that we want to discuss it with. Just humor us and let us blab about it for a few minutes, even if you have to tune us out for a bit. ;)

DON'T make assumptions. This, of course, applies to every group of people, and that includes those pursuing a career (or currently have a career) in the Student Affairs field. When #SApros/grads/docs try to explain the field to those that may not have a full understanding of what we do, we tend to get a lot of:
  • "So you're basically a glorified babysitter?"
  • "So you're basically the fun police?"
  • "So you're basically going to school to be in college for the rest of your life?"
No, no, and no. College students need support in many more ways than just the classroom, and that's where we come in! If there is something that you're curious about in regards to the Student Affairs field, I enthusiastically encourage you to follow the next piece of advice...

DO ask them questions. As mentioned above, #SAgrads are passionate people, and we LOVE to answer your questions. (Any excuse to talk shop!) We know that Student Affairs is a unique field that not many people realize is a thing, so we are used to getting confused looks when we mention what we're studying. We're happy to clear up any confusion and explain anything that may be new to you. Ask away! Except...

DON'T ask us what our post-graduation plans are. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, our schedules tend to swallow us whole, and it's pretty unusual not to have a 10 hour day (not including studying when we get home). We're usually just trying to survive the current week, and even if we've only got a year left, graduation still seems like an eternity away. #SAgrads have an unbelievable amount of hurdles to even get to graduation, let alone plan where they're applying for jobs. Though it's not unreasonable to ask what type of Student Affairs job we want after we graduate, asking us to give you our concrete 5-year plan can be a bit overwhelming at the moment. Maybe ask again when we know for a fact we'll be getting our diploma! :)


I hope this post is somewhat helpful in dealing with the #SAgrad in your life. We are fully aware that we can be crazy, unpredictable, and difficult at times, but we promise it'll only be until we graduate! ;)

Do you have an #SAgrad in your life? Are you an #SAgrad yourself? 
Let me know in the comments!

*#SAgrad: Hashtag used to describe students in a Higher Education or Student Affairs graduate program.

**#SAdoc: Hashtag used to describe students in a Higher Education or Student Affairs doctorate program.


  1. I really like what you wrote. I used to be a professional residence hall director, left the field for a number of years and am going back to school to get my masters degree in higher education and student affairs. As a hopeful future #sagrad, it is good to know from someone who is currently in a program what I will be facing. Thank you for writing about this!

  2. Lovely insight :-) I recently wrote a post about exam tips over at I'd love if you could check it out :)