Reflections on ACPA 2018 by Devin Buhdram

Authenticity and Representation are two ideas that we as student affairs professionals speak about a lot; specifically in regard to supporting our student populations and their success in many different aspects. Whether it be hiring staff at all levels that represent the ever changing student demographics, creating inclusive spaces where students can live, share ideas, and feel valued and visible, or utilizing processes that allow for the decolonization of systems, we advocate and strive to ensure our students get the resources they need to transition, be successful and graduate.

I find that we speak about it in smaller, quieter voices when it comes to these being important ideas to support our newer or even seasoned professionals.

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On Fishbowls, Role Modeling, & Self-Care by Sandie Downs, M.A.

fishbowl blog

At last, the end of the year has come or is closer than ever.  In residence life, we often like to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year through banquets and award ceremonies.  Working with student leadership groups, I had the opportunity to watch the National Residence Hall Honorary recognize others with their “fishbowl”: a literal candy-filled fishbowl given to the residence hall that has written the most “Of the Month” awards (a recognition tool used by the National Association of College and University Residence Halls). It’s a fun tradition, and although the candy tends to disappear in a few short minutes, the image of a fishbowl is something that has long been in my mind. Continue reading

Is It Best to Live On Campus? Living Environments and Student Engagement: Research Findings & Implications

Living Environments and Student Engagement: Research Findings and Implications
ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Tuesday, March 28| 4:45-5:45p | Convention Center A124
Presenters: Polly Graham, Sarah Hurtado, Bob Gonyea

Within the higher education community, there is a tacit belief that living on campus is more beneficial to students than living off campus. Residence life professionals in particular have experiential knowledge that supports this assumption. Most residential programs offer targeted programming, professional staffing, and increased access to a wide variety of resources, among other amenities. With increased access to these resources, it is commonsensical to assume that living on-campus offers more to students than other housing options. Additionally, there is scholarship that affirms the advantages of on-campus living, probably most well-known being Pascarella and Terenzini’s How College Affects Students.

In the 1991 edition, they assert the significance of residence life, concluding living on campus was “the single most consistent within-college determinant of the impact of college” (p. 611).

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(Re)imagining Theory-to-Practice in Residential Education

ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Tuesday, March 28| 10:00a-12:15p | Convention Center B234
Presenters: Reginald Blockett, Arian Bryant, Kelly Hennessy

Enjoy learning about theory? Are you always looking for ways to incorporate theory into your practice? Do you want to learn about how student development theory has evolved over time? Research encourages incorporating theory into higher education and student affairs practice and as educators we are always examining how this is actually occurring on campuses. Using residence life as a context and by bringing together graduate students, scholar-practitioners, and faculty, ACPA will offer a session that will (Re)imagine theory-to-practice in residential education. This session will generate new insights into how a diverse group of educators actively foster a theory-to-practice culture across multiple institutional contexts. Continue reading

Carving Your Path in 2017 by Steven Knepp


I have, up until recently, thought about my future within the context of employment. Location. Title. Pay. Job Responsibilities. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began thinking about my future through a new lens.

What do I want to be known for in Student Affairs and Higher Education? What is my legacy? As we enter into a new calendar year, 2017 may be the perfect opportunity to think about your legacy!


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We Never Imagined This: Life as a First-Gen Student and #SAPro by Kristi Hipp


A year ago almost to the day, I experienced the death of a student for the second time as a professional. I was in my second year as a professional, and in my first year working at a small private school in Saint Louis, Missouri. The student in question was beloved across campus, and the loss was one that shook the campus community to its very core.

As is usual for me, after I got home for the night I called my parents to debrief the situation. I had lost another student the previous year to a tragic accident, and had dealt with several suicidal ideations and other crises. As I was debriefing the day for my parents, they made a comment that has stuck with me ever since:

“When you told us you wanted to do this for a living, we never imagined this.”

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5 Things I have learned as a New Professional by Jess Shapiro


I began my first ever full-time job just about two months ago as a Residence Director/Honors Academic Assistant at Ithaca College (IC) in Ithaca, NY.  The beginning of my role has been a whirlwind of professional staff training, RA training, opening, welcome week, no-show reporting, and the daily task list.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about running a residence hall from my graduate experience, but that is far from true.  Here are five things I have learned since becoming a full-time professional. Continue reading

The Balancing Act: Three Strategies to Help Create Work /Life Balance by Catherine Kellman


It doesn’t matter if you have been in the field for one month or 35 years. The discussion on work/life balance is one that comes up often in the work environment and during the conference season. This discussion is different at each institution; however, the work of residence life is one that is never ending and without fail one that is not routine. With the summer upon us take this time to get ahead and start to create a plan to develop a better work/life balance. If you struggle like I have, you need to create what you define as healthy because the most important part of this discussion is that work/life balance is how you define it. Finding work/life balance is not a cookie cutter experience. It is more like a Chipotle, you build it and each year you can make changes because you have grown or your goals and responsibilities are different. The three strategies discussed here are just a few that I have developed and/or researched and have found to be important as one begins to create what work/life balance looks like as a Residence Life professional. Continue reading

Summertime Strides: How to Make the Most of Your “Summer” by Ann Schafer

summer blog photo

There is a pretty large misconception when working in Residence Life (or Higher Education for that matter) that we, like the students have summers off to go off and enjoy and not worry about work. While we miss those true summer vacations from our youth, there are still countless reasons that a housing professional might look forward to summer. Whether it’s a lull time for your team, or you keep striding on with camps, conferences and summer school, here are some tips on accomplishing those tasks you want to get through over the summer. Continue reading

My Experience with ACPA and Next Gen by Katie Perry

“We are now beginning our descent into Tampa.”


Those eight words were enough to make me nervous. It was not my first time traveling alone. I knew at least one person that was going to be there. That wasn’t why I was nervous. The ACPA Conference in Tampa, Florida was the beginning of the first chapter of my career.

This conference wasn’t the only thing I was thinking about while traveling to Tampa. I had to make a decision about where I am going to attend graduate school this same weekend. I got to my hotel room, settled in, and began to write a Pros and Cons list. This is when I received a phone call. “We regret to inform you that you have not been asked to attend this graduate program. I’m sorry.”

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