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Student Affairs Staff Quit Because of Burnout, Low Pay

March 23, 2022

Eighty-four percent of student affairs professionals said the stress and crisis management responsibilities of their jobs lead to burnout, according to a new report from NASPA, an association for student affairs professionals, that examines key issues and post-pandemic trends in the field.

Nearly nine in 10 respondents said that salaries and compensation packages are not competitive enough given the level of experience and education required for the job. Eight in 10 said they felt undervalued by their institution.

“When we look at the senior leaders in student affairs, they’re working 80-hour workweeks. They seem overwhelmed. They seem overtaxed, while at the same time they seem undervalued and underappreciated at their home institutions,” a dean of students told NASPA in a focus group. “I don’t think that’s attractive to our early-career student affairs professionals.”

Yet about six in 10 student affairs professionals plan to remain in the field for the next five years, and more than half—57 percent—would recommend the profession to someone else, the report shows.

The majority of student affairs employees expect some remote work flexibility going forward, and 43 percent expect their institutions to offer greater flexibility in work hours.

NASPA suggests that transparent salary information, equitable promotion policies, flexible work options and regular two-way feedback could help keep more student affairs employees in their jobs.

Other notable findings from the report include:

  • About six in 10 respondents agree they work at an institution with a welcoming and inclusive environment that values social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • One-third of respondents agree that their institution is adequately addressing concerns related to racial justice and campus climate.
  • Sixty-eight percent believe their colleagues leave the field because of hidden job responsibilities that are not discussed up front.
  • Nearly all survey respondents believe their responsibilities will increase over the next five years.
  • Ninety-four percent of student affairs professionals believe they’re making a positive difference for students.

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Emma Whitford

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