Student Affairs Planning

Unleashing the promise and potential of each student doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It can happen in a protest on the quad, at a meeting in the student union, or during a conversation with a hallmate.

Student affairs planning provides the opportunities that help each student shape and define their future.

What is student affairs planning?

Student affairs planning is a higher education institution’s effort to align its student activities and campus environment with the needs of students to enrich and enhance the student experience.

Student affairs planning often focuses on:

  • Learning and development outside the classroom
  • Student health and wellness
  • Creating a climate that supports diversity, inclusion, and equity
  • Preparing students for success after graduation

Why do it?

Student affairs planning makes sure that a college or university’s time and resources are focused on activities, support, and environments that actually improve the student experience. Further, given the correlation between a student’s engagement outside the classroom and their success in the classroom, effective student affairs planning can improve student success.

How to do it?

Every institution has a different process for student affairs planning. It is common for processes to include gathering data from the units that make up the full student affairs division and reviewing broader institutional goals. An effort is made to support programs and staff resources that will enrich the student experience while assisting in overall institutional goals. Student affairs planning uses program evaluation data to create an iterative planning process focused on consistent improvement.

Who does it?

While student affairs planning is often led by senior leaders in student affairs divisions, units that make up student affairs are highly involved, like:

  • Residential life
  • New student orientation
  • Student activities/leadership
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Fraternity and sorority life
  • Service learning
  • Intercollegiate and club athletics
  • Career planning and placement
  • Student justice

When to do it?

Overall student affairs planning can be conducted strategically with a multi-year time horizon. It can be helpful if the plan follows a college or university strategic or academic plan so student affairs initiatives are aligned with broader institutional goals. The units within student affairs also have different timelines for ongoing planning for their specific functional areas.

Why integrated?

Extracurricular activities, student housing, and student services used to be treated as “nice-to-have” perks. Now they are recognized as key components of the college experience that improve student success. Integrated planning for student affairs ensures that student success initiatives are supported outside the classroom, and that the unique knowledge and skills possessed by student affairs professionals are incorporated into curricular planning as well.