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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

How Do You Measure Success in Student Affairs?
July 18, 2012 - 6:29pm

We have teaching evaluations to measure how students perceive faculty, grades to measure student success in the classroom, number of applicants, yield rate and (sometimes) retention to measure admissions, and fundraising/participation to measure success in development.  But how do you measure success in student affairs?

The importance of student affairs can’t be underestimated. These are the people that work with both the problem students and the stars, who deal with issues large and small, and who plan and execute the processes and programs that enhance student life and student success. Remembering that students are on-campus (or online) for two to six years and alumni for the rest of their lives also puts the importance of student affairs in perspective – particularly since most campus fundraisers will tell you that it is a positive student experience that creates the momentum for a positive alumni experience. 

So how do you measure this very important function?  Some important questions to think about in measuring success in student affairs might include:

  • What do the students say about which services they utilize most frequently, which they find most important, what the student affairs team does best, and where improvement is needed?
  • When students leave the school, what reasons do they give?  How might we address these problems?
  • Are we staffed appropriately for what we’re trying to achieve?  Do we have the right people in place?  Do we have enough of them?
  • Are there certain issues that take up a disproportionate amount of time/resources that could use a closer look?  What are the 20% of issues that are causing 80% of the problems?
  • Are some of the problems experienced in student affairs the result of problems that began upstream, in the admissions process or through the marketing of the school (e.g., setting unrealistic expectations for the student experience)?
  • How do our numbers (e.g., students per staff member, number of student visits by issue, student satisfaction, program utilization, event attendance, percentage of students returning for their sophomore year, etc.) compare with peer schools and national averages?  Are there trends in these numbers that might yield insights?

Let’s get some discussion and ideas going.  Please let us know:

  • Do you currently measure success in student affairs?  How?
  • What are the top issues and priorities?
  • What gets in the way of solving the problems?
  • What have you done that has worked well?
  • Do you benchmark with other schools?  How and what do you benchmark?



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