higher education

Reviewing the Major Issues of Higher Education .. Reconsider Graduate School for Student Affairs A 2020 blog series Guest Post by Anonymous #RGS4SAM https://danceswithdissonance.wordpress.com

Reviewing the Major Issues of Higher Education [guest post]

This is part of the blog series “Reconsider Graduate School for Student Affairs” dedicated to exploring if going to graduate school for student affairs – or even going into student affairs – is worth it. To see the introductory post on this blog series, please visit this page. To contribute a guest post, visit here. Peruse past posts on what to look for in a #SAgrad program and alternatives to #SAgrad programs to pursue related interests in different careers.

In this guest post, an Anonymous Higher Education professional shares their thoughts on what the big picture problems of higher education and student affairs. Welcome to #RGS4SAM.


Like most people reading this, I had a college experience that affected me profoundly. Though my family was of decidedly modest means, tuition in the mid-90s was reasonable and financial aid bridged the gap much better than it does today – so I was able to have a residential experience on a small liberal arts campus. It was immersive and transformative and I am thankful for the faculty, staff, and fellow students who invested so much in me to make that such a meaningful time. This experience moved me to pursue a career trying to reproduce that experience for others by way of Student Affairs.

Bilbo Baggins is running through the Shire shouting "I;m going on an adventure!"

Now: No college experience worth its salt should turn out people who can’t adapt. As I ventured into new institutions and new roles, I saw some students having experiences similar to mine, finding the right resources and niches. And then, as I began to shed my confirmation bias, I increasingly saw students left behind by static student affairs engagement models that don’t meet the needs of a changing population of learners.

I have watched:

  • Social fraternities cling to their influence and demand disproportionate resources of their host institutions while much more inclusive programming models struggle to survive.
  • Urban institutions sink tons of cash into developing a new residential and programming structure while criminally underserving the vast majority of students who commute, work, support families, and struggle to balance it all.
  • Small colleges doubling down on irrelevant curricula, resulting in depressed enrollments, all the while continuing to teach “the students they wish they had” instead of making structural changes to serve the students they have, and that deserve a far more responsive approach.

A recent position with an organization that serves higher education helped me understand that these are not anomalies. There are massive systemic issues facing the higher education sector – issues that for the most part I think student affairs is ignoring. While most of this incredible blog series is centered on the reasons one might want to reconsider a career in student affairs, I am here to offer thoughts on why you might be careful about pursuing work in higher education writ large. To set the stage:

  • American faith in higher education institutions is eroding, and there is little evidence to suggest it will recover quickly. While college degrees do add massive value to a person’s life, our national graduation rates (just over 50%: abysmal) indicate that we do a terrible job actually getting those degrees into people’s hands. We have not adjusted to meet their needs, and we are failing them. The public has taken notice.
  • Another rising critique from outside our walls: Employers are not seeing the skills they need in recent graduates. Students have a much higher perception of how capable they are than do the employers who hire them. Chief academic officers have similar blinders on, habitually overestimating the abilities of their graduates. Given career outcomes are the overwhelming reason students cite for pursuing college educations, this is a serious issue.

So it is not clear we do what our students need us to do at all. And enrollments tell the story: They are in perpetual freefall at all types of institutions over the last eight years, spanning several shifts in the economy. This is driven in part by fewer students graduating from high school, and by people pursuing other options for postsecondary education. Training at work, certifications and licenses, and other non-degree pathways can be fruitful and certainly represent a smaller opportunity cost than the time and money it takes to finish a full degree.

As colleges scramble to figure out how they will entice older learners back to finish degrees – one in five adults in this country is walking around with some college but no degree, which is a direct effect of our terrible graduation rates – they are demonstrating a basic inability or unwillingness to consider fundamental changes to their models. And they are hurtling toward budget crises and closures as a result of having no idea how to attract today’s learner. This is a business that’s experiencing a rapid, catastrophic market correction. Why on earth would you get in now?

This is a business that’s experiencing a rapid, catastrophic market correction. Why on earth would you get in now?

Even if you land a steady job with a reasonable wage, the glut of people coming out of graduate programs (and out of sick and dying institutions) will be competing fiercely for a diminishing number of opportunities for advancement. Moribund enrollments guarantee flat wages and waning retirement contributions. And in the end, adjusting to meet the needs of today’s learners, which higher education has done such a shitty job of so far, is way harder when resources grow thin. So it’s a downward spiral for many institutions at this point.

These are all facts. The numbers tell the story. But here’s an additional suspicion I have, specific to student affairs: While some folks enter a career after considering many possibilities available to them, there is no small number of people who land on student affairs by default, after a minimum of creative thinking. Graduate programs have proliferated, enticing students into mediocre preparation tracks and tossing them into a really challenging employment market and jobs where they seem to be surrounded by toxicity and retrenchment of regressive social values.

And of all of these pathways to the profession, so precious few are taking into account the massive sea change in higher education and who our students are (as artfully laid out by Niki in her opening post in this series). I routinely see big, famous student affairs programs churn out new graduates completely unprepared for today’s higher education landscape, operating on assumptions established 30 or 40 years ago.

There is good work to do in this sector. My current role is one charged with making massive changes to a single institution to make it future compatible. I believe in what higher ed can be, but am skeptical that it will rise to the occasion in most circumstances. If you see opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the change we need, I encourage you to consider those. You don’t always need a degree in student affairs to do so. But if you’re assuming student affairs will be a steady option given all that’s happening, think carefully about whether you’re ready to enter that fray.

* * *


The writer for this blog post has held senior-level positions in higher education and has 20+ years of experience in the field.

[Editor’s note: Submission guidelines allow for anonymous authorship for writers who would like to keep their identity unknown. Please respect their anonymity – this series will have a couple anonymous posts at least]

Don’t Go to Graduate School If You Don’t Want to Be a Graduate Student. A 2020 blog series Guest Post by @cjvenable https://danceswithdissonance.wordpress.com

Re-Considering Graduate School for Student Affairs: Or, Don’t Go to Graduate School If You Don’t Want to Be a Graduate Student

This is part of a blog series dedicated to exploring if going to graduate school for student affairs – or even going into student affairs – is worth it. To see the introductory post on this blog series, please visit this page. To contribute a guest post, visit here. Peruse past posts on what to look for in a #SAgrad program and alternatives to #SAgrad programs to pursue related interests in different careers.

In this guest post, CJ Venable shares their thoughts on what graduate school really means – it’s more than getting a piece of paper at the end. Welcome to #RGS4SAM.


I am writing this to encourage you, gentle reader, not to reconsider (make another decision), but to re-consider (consider again) graduate school for student affairs. By this I mean, I want you to enter into the prospect of graduate work with a clear understanding of professional preparation in student affairs as a formative academic and professional endeavor.

To start, a few caveats. Graduate school is terrible for one’s mental health, largely because of cultures that encourage competition and superhuman work habits, compounded by all the preexisting isms that are built into higher education. Ableism in particular can make graduate school inaccessible, based on myths that graduate study should be limited to only a select few.  Graduate school is financially precarious–even departments that offer “full” funding expect graduate students to be unmarried, without children, and capable of living on poverty wages years at a time (I received a $9000/year stipend and, as I had no savings and a family recovering from medical bankruptcy, depended on my partner to survive). These problems are real and deserve critique and reform. And as I’m sure other essays in this series will argue, not everyone needs to go to graduate school (period, or in student affairs).

Also, I’m a doctoral candidate in the cultural foundations of education, studying whiteness in student affairs. I have a master’s degree in college student personnel and I hope to someday be faculty in a graduate professional preparation program. My scholarly work is largely about how we fail, as a field, to live up to the commitments we make to social justice and envisioning possibilities for how we can actually do better. All of that, from being a full-time grad student in student affairs right after undergrad to pursuing a degree outside of HESA (higher education and student affairs) shapes my perspective on this topic. It’s up to you to judge whether or not I’m just trying to secure my own future. Onward.

* * *

Often I hear folks say that a HESA degree is ‘just a piece of paper,’ that it is merely a ‘ticket to entry’ into the profession, or that the classes (especially…dun dun dun…the theory class(es)) don’t really matter compared to the experience of an assistantship, internship, practicum, or other hands-on work in student affairs. I won’t say that those people are entirely wrong, even though there may be dimensions of those claims I would like to unpack further (lucky for you, I’ll have to do that somewhere else). But I am here to argue that if you choose, despite the problems and caveats above, to pursue a graduate degree in student affairs that you should consider it an academic undertaking.

I’ll give you a preview into one of your first classes. It will probably be called something like “Introduction to Student Affairs” or “Foundations and Functions of College Student Personnel” (that was it in my program) or perhaps even “Introduction to College Student Personnel Work.” At some point, you will be introduced to the idea that student affairs is a profession, a word that refers to a complex sociological phenomenon but which often gets used as a stand in for “a field which deserves to be respected.” Sociologically, we are not a profession–we don’t have the same kinds of ethical oversight, control, or prestige as professions like law or medicine. We do, however, have a growing body of specialized knowledge that should* undergird our practice.

*I said should here quite intentionally. Truthfully, there are many working in student affairs who do not use any kind of theory, research, or pedagogies to shape their work day-to-day. It is my belief that everyone should be using some kind of theoretical foundation for their work, even if that foundation is not the specialized knowledge of student affairs.

You will likely develop your own opinion about how much of a ‘profession’ we in student affairs are. You might even be asked to write a paper on it for a class or two. But even if, like me, you are unconvinced by the ‘of course we are a profession’ stance, you still have an obligation to operate as a professional (as opposed to a para-professional, like a Resident Assistant, or a person entirely unaffiliated with higher education). If you choose to pursue a graduate degree in student affairs, you should take seriously the development of your understanding of the knowledge the field has developed, collected, uncovered, created (pick your preferred epistemological verb).

At the end of your graduate journey, you do not take a certification or sit for boards in student affairs. You might complete a comprehensive exam. You might prepare a capstone portfolio. You might even contribute to the knowledge of the field with a thesis project. Regardless, ultimately you cross a stage and are awarded an academic degree, hooded with a special signifier of your advanced knowledge as a Master (of Arts, Sciences, Education, Arts in Education, Science in Education, or some other tag your particular institution has deemed appropriate for your particular studies). If you are choosing to pursue this degree–as opposed to entering the field in some other way, which is a valid endeavor–you should understand it as an opportunity to challenge yourself academically and to gain new skills in analysis, synthesis, and critique.

* * *

So then, what does it look like to consider graduate study in student affairs as an academic endeavor?

First, in the delicate dance that is the traditional HESA grad school experience (think full-time study plus an assistantship), make sure that your classes aren’t always your last priority. While I do think there are times when class (or reading, or finishing a paper on time) should rightfully fall behind compared to other professional or personal demands, if you are consistently missing classes, ghosting classmates on group projects, or skipping the readings, you’re missing out. In particular, grad school (unlike some undergrad experiences) generally relies heavily on the ‘seminar,’ a small class driven by discussion of closely-read texts. Your professor (and your classmates) know when you haven’t done the reading. Everyone has off weeks where they can’t make it all happen, but if you’re always the person talking about your ‘personal experience’ instead of the readings, it’s probably time to reprioritize.

Next, look for ways to intentionally apply what you’re learning in your courses to your practice. Even for folks who already work in the field, coursework is an opportunity to seek out the limits of your knowledge and experience and find out how to move beyond them by using research and theory to expand your expertise. Applying theory to practice is notoriously challenging and does not feel natural. Instead, theory should challenge us to question our ‘natural assumptions’ and look beyond what we think we know. Theory offers opportunities for critique, both of the practice that you or others are engaged in and of the structures we have created in the first place. This is a valuable mindset, even if the specific theories you cover in your courses don’t seem relevant to the work you do or the students you work with. By understanding the theories and structures that make HESA tick–including the more sinister ones, like neoliberalism–you may also better understand how to envision other ways of being in higher education.

Finally, even if you have no interest in being a researcher, look to research experiences (taking courses, writing a thesis) as opportunities for growth as a practitioner. Gaining real facility at reading, understanding, and critiquing research takes time and practice. While you might not be a practitioner-scholar who reads every new issue of every journal in your field, you will inevitably be called upon to back up your decisions on an event, program, initiative, or funding request with some research. That demands the skills of a critical research consumer. Skills from research methods courses can also be useful–improved spreadsheet skills from a stats class or listening skills developed through practice in qualitative interviewing are valuable in the daily work of many practitioners. And, you may someday decide to do research of your own. At my institution, as a professional staff member with a master’s degree, I am able to act as the Principal Investigator (the one who leads and is responsible for a research project) for my own research. You, like me, may go on to pursue a doctoral degree as well. Seeking out research opportunities with faculty, like working on a research team, can be incredibly rewarding. Either way, your skills as a consumer, if not producer, of research are useful and should be taken seriously.

* * *

Graduate school in HESA can be transformative. Even though it is not the only way into the field, if you choose to pursue a HESA degree, I hope you will take from it as much as you possibly can. Being a student has great benefits–you have license to question and challenge in ways that become significantly more precarious as a full-time professional. You get new knowledge to explore that applies directly to your future (or current!) career. You also get to flex your intellectual muscles in ways that don’t happen in practice, challenging you to think differently and communicate for different audiences. I hope you benefit from supportive and non-exploitative supervisors and gain a new or deeper understanding of yourself as a professional and a scholar. And I hope you come to see the academics, though at times challenging, to be an essential part of your growth in graduate school.

* * *


CJ Venable is a senior academic advisor and candidate for the PhD in the cultural foundations of education at Kent State University. They currently serve as the Chair of the Theory, Philosophy, and History of Advising Community in NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. CJ’s scholarly interests center on whiteness and higher education, the cultural politics of emotion, and trans people in higher education. Most recently, they are co-author, with Kyle Inselman and Nick Thuot, of “Negotiating Fit While ‘Misfit’: Three Ways Trans Professionals Navigate Student Affairs” in Debunking the Myth of Job Fit in Higher Education and Student Affairs edited by Reece, Tran, DeVore, and Porcaro. You can follow CJ on Twitter @cjvenable.

Jaskier from the Witcher is standing inside a pub and sings "Toss a coin to your Witcher O'Valley of Plenty, O'Valley of Plenty"

Toss a coin to your witcher! Share some monetary love to CJ if you can, in thanks for their work on this excellent essay.

11 Things to Do Instead of Graduate School for Student Affairs

This is part of a blog series dedicated to exploring if going to graduate school for student affairs – or even going into student affairs – is worth it. To see the introductory post on this blog series, please visit this page. To contribute a guest post, visit here. In this post, we’ll review why you should reconsider a career in student affairs. Welcome to #RGS4SAM.

There are 406 graduate programs for student affairs in the NASPA Graduate Program Directory (including programs named “College Student Personnel”, “Student Affairs”, “Higher Education Administration”, “Adult Education”, and variants of these names). This includes programs that host master’s and doctoral degrees (some just do one of these, some do both). I’m uncertain how accurate this list is – I saw one incorrect listing.

Suffice to say, there are many student affairs graduate programs. Too many (but that’s for another blog post). 

But…if you are interested in working with students and/or working at a university or related student affairs job characteristics, there are MANY options for you. I strongly encourage you to do a different graduate program so you have easily transferable skills when you need to leave student affairs, but to also get a graduate assistantship or internships in student affairs in order to gain the required work experience. I do recognize, however, that often a well-established student affairs program at universities tend to lock down many of the student-centered GA opportunities for only their students. But there are options…  

Alternatives to Student Affairs Graduate Programs

1. Don’t do a graduate program at all

Many folks in student affairs, that I either have relationships with and have personally shared this or they shared in various Facebook groups that I’m in, stated that they went into student affairs graduate programs because they weren’t sure what else they would do for a career, and whether their mentors encouraged them or they knew peers who went into it, they jumped for it as something to do. During the Great Recession from 2004-2014, there was an increase in graduate school enrollment (Douglas-Gabriel, 2015), due, I believe, to economic and career uncertainty; when folks couldn’t find jobs, they could do grad school! (I say this airily, as I was one of those people).

But…given the economic outcomes that come with a student affairs job and additional student loan debt, I really don’t think it is necessary. There are other jobs you can do that either don’t require a master’s degree or could be a degree in a different program that will allow you to more easily transfer skills. 

Also – you can just work one year, or even longer (I took 5 years) and then go into graduate school! It’s important to give yourself time to consider a major life choice that will result in loan debt, and make sure you choose the graduate program best for you. Plus? With work experience, your likelihood of obtaining better offers for graduate assistantships greatly increases (trust me – I know from experience!)


To be fair, there are a handful of student affairs programs that have a focus on counseling (according to NASPA’s website). But I’d encourage folks to consider a counseling master’s program (U.S. News list of ranked programs) where you can be trained as either a school counselor or a clinical mental health counselor…this means you can also serve as a counselor at a university counseling center or if you obtain experience in student affairs (via a graduate assistantship or internship), you can still apply for ‘regular’ student affairs jobs like student activities, residence life, etc! 

3. Social Work

When I was a kid, I thought social workers were scary – they ‘took children away’ (sigh, #liesmyparentstoldme)! Yeah…not so much. It is a complex world with so many opportunities. While I worked in nonprofits, my main focus was youth ages 11-19, and I do wish (and sometimes do consider) a Masters in Social Work (MSW). There are some social workers who do social work within higher education (see this article) – just consider the increase in students experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, mental illness, and other major social issues. If you have an MSW degree and obtain licensure, you can legally (and ethically) counsel students – something that many of us in student affairs think we do…but ethically and legally need to be careful not to actually counsel students. Additionally, social workers are trained on using community resources, so you could easily work in service-learning, civic engagement, or generalized social work to connect students to their community. If you decide to leave higher education, you can fairly easily find positions with government or nonprofit organizations working with populations other than college students – our society needs more social workers!

4. Public Affairs/Public Administration/Nonprofit Management

Masters in Public Affairs (MPA) programs and related nonprofit management programs are an excellent alternative. These programs train students to work with the community (i.e., people), manage programs and budgets, and so much more! My former graduate student was an MPA student; she had an assistantship in civic engagement, I brought her to ‘the dark side’ that is student affairs (joking – she chose herself, truly), and now she’s working professionally as an assistant director in civic engagement at a large public university! As always, having an assistantship in student affairs while working towards your masters (or just working in SA full-time) is what majorly helps you get a job in student affairs. The program supplements it.

5. Business

Masters in Business Management (MBA) is ideal for folks who are interested in the higher education administration side of things. Truthfully, I wouldn’t count on a student affairs program teaching you how to manage university budgets, supervision, or leading large teams (sure, some do to an extent…but don’t expect very much). If you are interested in areas like admissions, becoming a director of an office or dean, finance administration, financial aid, marking, or related roles, these programs can teach it to you. But remember – they require a GMAT instead of a GRE (although some programs will waive it base on your undergraduate degree and GPA). 

6. Public Health

You may be surprised by the admission of a Masters in Public Health (MPH) on this list, but my brilliant MPH friends who worked in my former student affairs division showed me the light and I am a convert! “Wellness” is the growing need for college students. There are 7 identified dimensions on the “Wellness Wheel” used by collegiate wellness professionals: Spiritual, Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, Environmental, Financial. With a MPH, you’ll gain training in health data/statistics/assessment, identifying population needs, building programming around needs, and marketing said needs. Of course, the transition for student affairs jobs with a MPH include Wellness offices and recreation, but easily can be brought into residence life (I knew a Public Health PhD student serving as a graduate hall director), student activities, civic engagement, advising for health science programs, and even serve as faculty for public health courses (visit the NASPA KC for Health & Wellness Promotion to learn more). If you decide to jump out of SA, you can easily go into so many government or nonprofit programs or even research organizations making a solid salary! Check out the best public health schools here.

7. Law 

I know – you’re probably like “LOL Law School is expensive, requires an LSAT, and is difficult as hell – why would I work in student affairs afterwards making pennies?!” Well, everyone needs a lawyer – especially institutions of higher education. I’ve know quite a few people with JDs go into conduct (especially Title IX work) or work in other administrative capacities (a past mentor is an associate provost). I’ve known two folks who did a master’s in student affairs then got a JD after working in the field a few years – one was a general counsel member for a Big 10 and then became a Dean of Students and the other is working in labor law now. Whether you work as a university lawyer or in conduct, there are additional teaching opportunities (since a JD is a terminal degree!) in law schools, political science, or public administration. And if you decide student affairs isn’t for you? You’ll be well set with a law degree! (to my fellow low-SES folks – you can get full ride scholarships to law school. It can happen.)

8. Computer & Information Science

Some of you may be thinking “But I want to go into student affairs because I like being around people, not machines!” My Dear Prospective Student, there are still opportunities with that! Let’s face it – higher education is rapidly changing. Online course enrollment is increasing. Technology needs are increasing. Even student affairs needs tech folks, to help manage residence life operations (online systems for roommate sorting and more) and more. Many large universities are having their tech people create “in-house” programs for financial transactions and related projects instead of outsourcing to private companies. If you have a mind for using and understanding computer programs and databases + you want the higher education environment (and benefits!) this may be for you. Once you leave higher ed, you can go into a higher education adjacent company (for example: the various companies that run platforms for student organizations like OrgSync or Presence) – or really go anywhere.  Heck, the world is your oyster!

9. Education

Wait, but isn’t student affairs in the school of education? Yes (I assume always). But there are additional master’s in education programs geared towards k-12. This could be a great opportunity to increase your transferable skills to working with any student age. While the course content may not always connect to college students, it will better inform you on the experiences that college students have already had prior to entering a campus. Plus, you can go into leadership positions in k-12, become a teacher, or work at nonprofit organizations that serve youth.

10. Library Science

We can all agree that librarians are the coolest, but could someone with a master’s in library science work in student affairs? Again, if they get an assistantship or internship, I believe so. Librarians are resourceful, excellent researchers, know how to program, gain education in cultural competency, and much more that I think can transfer to student affairs. Also? I just think having this degree would be fun, but I am a total book nerd, so *shrug*. 🙂

11. Psychology

I personally think a master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology would be amazing. What is it, you ask? “I/O psychology applies the scientific method to understand human behavior in the workplace and to find solutions to workplace problems” (IUPUI).Not only would you learn brilliant human resource data, but you’d better understand how to manage a team. In a profession where good supervisors are rather rare, student affairs could use folks with this knowledge. Plus, there are many opportunities in the public and private sector, from consulting to HR. 

In Conclusion

Personally speaking, if I could go back in time I would have gotten a MSW since so much of my work and interests connect back to social work. Currently, I’m considering a MPH – although I probably won’t, since I’d rather get a doctoral degree than a second master’s. In a world where I liked paperwork as much as I like reading law reviews and arguing with folks, I’d get a JD (lawyer fact: they do tons of paperwork! Law & Order did not prepare me for this boring reality).

I will say – if you really are interested in student affairs, it is the program on this list most likely to require/offer graduate assistantships. However, students in non-SA programs can still apply for graduate assistantships, so please don’t think it is required.

Finally, let me say that I did enjoy my master’s program – it introduced me to critical theories that I use in my everyday life and it made me a better writer and researcher. But I know the reality is many with this degree feel limiting in applying to positions outside of higher education, so I truly want to encourage folks to look outward. Many current professionals, especially my fellow first gen folks, didn’t know there were other options besides a SA graduate degree in order to work in higher ed. Please know you have choices!


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10 Ways You Know You’re Following a Higher Ed “Thought Leader”

Thought Leaders(™) are the glorious saviors of higher education. With their keen thinky-thoughts, we can transcend the mere mediocrity of our field. All hail the Thought Leaders of Higher Education!hahahaha good one.gif

For those who cannot read intent online, that was sarcasm 🙂

Now, within #sachat and other spaces, recently folks like to make fun of the concept of a “thought leader”. I was inspired to write this fun post after yet another desperate and insipid post by a “higher ed thought leader” (lol).

What is a “thought leader”? Well, Wikipedia defined it as “A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Given the absurdity to which folks throw around the term, I thought something as basic as Wikipedia was just fine enough to cite.

How do I define it? Anyone with an ego and desire for attention that writes “thought leader” in their Twitter bio.

Onto the main event…

10 ways you know you’re following a

“higher ed thought leader”!


1. Well, it’s pretty easy, actually. They tell you they are a thought leader.

futurama - yay attention to me

(I could probably end the list here, but that seemed anti-climatic)


2. They tend to be long-winded and tweet a lot.

spn - cas - tell me


3. Sometimes they will reply to your tweets just to raise their own profile (and will use 2-5 hashtags just to make sure people see it)  – amazingly, this will sometimes happen even after they have blocked you for calling them out for their problematic behavior, but then unblock you because…they need attention, I guess? (this has happened to many millennial SApros…it is SO weird, y’all)

nicki minaj speaking


4.When you ask who their inspiration is, the honest answer is themselves.

mindy project - role model


5. They will use every student affairs/higher education hashtag that exists in each tweet.

doctor who - hashtags


6. They have the confidence of a unicorn (and sometimes the charisma of one). When someone calls them out for problematic behavior (like, say…an open letter seeping with racist and ableist microaggressions or denigrating a new #SApro on a podcast) they just keep flowing without ever apologizing for what they’ve done.

Confidence lol


7. They spew these kind-of-poetical but cringe-worthy sayings that sound familiar, like a hundred other people have said it before, but they emote the same feeling you’d get as a Dickens character being served some sad, cold gruel in the breakfast line.

i love lucy - cringe


8. Did you KNOWWWWW that you could bring them to speak to your campus?! I mean, yeah, you probably did, because they talk about it so much. It’s just the low low cost of thousands of dollars for two hours (and somehow they registered their business as a 501(c)3 nonprofit?!)…

buy chronic

(note: this does NOT apply to actual great campus speakers, including the former SA folks who have started a side hustle that I actually like – you know I heart you)


9. You’re…not actually sure what they are good at and why we should be listening to their thoughts? They are people who sometimes are still in the field. Or sometimes they were in the field for a few years before then making a career out of ‘coaching’ higher ed leaders for 20 years or so. Either way, you honestly have no idea what they bring to the table except a lot of noise.

mind project the office - so smart


10. A rare but truly hysterical tactic is they retweet ‘people’ who quote their inspirational sayings, and then you check the accounts tweeting them and are pretty sure its a bunch of Russian bots.



11. They are most likely white and often a man, because there’s something about the socialization in a white supremacist patriarchal society that teaches men / white people that their voices deserve to be heard over others, regardless of their dismal mediocrity.

hairspray - nice white kids