Ten Predictions for Student Affairs of 2018

From time to time, I like to think about what student affairs and even higher education in general will look like maybe about three or four year from now. These predictions are based on general observations happening on my campus, reading technology trends both inside and outside higher education, and reading about general landscape of higher education. These are not based on formal research, so I don’t have citations to provide:)  Here are some personal thoughts on what 2018 in student affairs may look like. Some may be considered outrageous and low likely chance of even becoming reality, but one can explore beyond the realm of reality, right? It will be fun to just look at these predictions in 2019. Here they are:

1.  Assessment will become more important as the need for greater accountability increases. Assessment as part of a formal job duties will also become more prevalent. This will require new skill sets for staff including how to conduct assessment as well as how to use technologies to analyze data. Some organizations may even have data scientists who will explore and design ways to use data for student success.  The use of machine learning, an advanced predictive analytic, will be used in different areas of student affairs and enrollment management services. While big data is the big talk now, the focus will be on algorithms.

2.  Greater use of consumer technologies in the workplace including social media, cloud, mobile, wearable computing, and Internet of Things. I wrote on this blog post how these technologies can all work together in student affairs. Wearable computing and Internet of Things will pose challenges to IT organizations when it comes to securing information and protecting networks. In addition, the use of these technologies for cheating will pose challenges to judicial affairs and academic staff.

3. Outsourcing of student affairs services as the need for 24/7 availability increases. These services could include 24/7 counseling hotlines for suicide prevention. As more online courses are offered, the traditional 8 to 5 local work hours will require extended hours of operations as students from different time zones (global) requiring instructional technology and student services support.

4. Organizational re-structuring will occur to accommodate the needs of the diverse student body including veterans, undocumented, LGBTQIA, international, and non-traditional students.

5. Health, wellness, and campus safety will become even bigger issues.

6. New student development theories or revisions of existing theories incorporating digital aspect of identities will be introduced.

7. Budget constraints will lead some student affairs organizations to find different sources for funding and/or cost cutting efforts. These efforts could include a formation of development offices within student affairs as well as consolidation of multiple offices. Partnership with vendors in exchange for access to student data (hopefully aggregated and not personally identifiable information) and insights may be a path taken by some organizations.

8. A new controversial social media platform, like Yik Yak, will be created and will lead campuses and student affairs professionals to react extremely against the platform. The use of virtual/Augmented reality technologies like Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens with the new platform will make privacy/confidentiality/cyberbullying issues even become more significant.

9. With technology finally added as a part of the ACPA/NASPA professional competency area for student affairs, discussions around the importance of technology’s role in student learning, professional development, and administrative use will lead to a creation of a new Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) position focusing on technology such as the one I proposed here – Dean of Student Affairs Technology.

10. An additional role that may be created in some student affairs organizations is that of Chief Innovations Officer or a role that’s dedicated to exploring new ideas. Given lack of resources, increasing demands to be more effective/efficient, and the need to respond to the fast-changing needs of students, some student affairs organizations will move towards disruptive instead of incremental innovation efforts.

Bonus prediction: New technologies will confuse higher education staff even more on the appropriate use of FERPA.

What other predictions do you have?


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