Thinking about the future of student affairs and exploring ways to “predict” what the next few years hold for my profession -are two topics that have occupied some of my thoughts lately. As a student affairs professional, I’m anxious/excited about how higher education and student affairs will be, even a couple of years from now. The technological advances over the last few years, including social media, cloud,  mobile, and wearable computing, have changed the landscape of higher education. Rising student debt and tuition costs lead to questions about the value of college degrees and affordability/access and accountability. The changing demographics bring new expectations and needs. Newer forms of instructional delivery, including blended and distance learning, specifically MOOC, introduce debates about the role of technology and the faculty. As more higher education institutions offer online courses,  the role of student affairs professionals in providing student services must also be explored. Given all the different factors driving changes in higher education, I am intrigued as to what the next few years hold.

Can anyone truly predict the future of student affairs? I certainly can’t, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. While the services we will need and how we will provide them will change, the needs of students outside the classroom will not go away. The questions we should ask are “what is our preferred future of student affairs?” and “what are the possible scenarios we must prepare for, and how can we prepare ourselves?”. How can we use information like Pew Research, ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to inform us about current and future issues/trends? What prevailing beliefs/ideologies, if any, do we need to change? At this point, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that as we think about our future, we must not be confined by our past and how it’s been done. As much as we would like to reminisce about how wonderful our college experiences may have been way back in the day, we are not designing/providing services for ourselves. As we think about our future, it’s probably a good idea to expand our local campus perspectives by having conversations with colleagues outside our institutions and including those who will ultimately lead us in the future – our current students and new professionals.

What are your thoughts about the future of student affairs?