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Journal Entry #5: Understanding Students and Student Issues Tracy Phutikanit SDAD 564/565 - Internship Seattle University November 16, 2013

Running head: SDAD 564/565 JOURNAL ENTRY #5 UNDERSTANDING STUDENTS AND STUDENT ISSUES Understanding students and student issues has always been the most salient learning outcome to me as a student affairs professional and in this program. As someone that is extremely student focused and relies on the daily interaction with students for professional fulfillment, I see understanding students and issues necessary, if not critical. My internship at a smaller, suburban community college definitely gave me context into what the community college student was like and the struggles that are faced. While advising students, I usually had an idea of what a student was coming in for via appointment information. Drops ins were more unpredictable but even if students were coming in for the same goal i.e. a tentative class schedule for their educational goals or checking the completion status of their Associates Degree, the type of student that came in for advising was rarely the same. Just recently, I met with a student that was a competitive ice skater and need to travel during Spring and Summer but could take classes in Fall and Winter. Another student

came in to plan out classes for after they come back from Army Basic Training in June 2014 and we were able to plan his classes all the way till graduation in June 2016. Another student was going to be leaving Washington for 18 months on a missionary trip so we had to do an education plan that went into the 2017 academic year. All of these students were attending to the life happenings outside of their education but still made an effort to keep college as an goal. They didnt just put off college; they made an effort to see what the schedule would be like upon their return or what the availability of classes would be like. Working with students like that make me think of the existing statistics that represent how long it takes to complete an associates or bachelors degree. According to Levine & Dean (2012), two-year and four-year degrees are things of the past. A study from the National Center for Institution of Education Sciences showed that 2008 bachelor degree recipients found that the average time to earn a degree starting from community colleges was five years and one quarter.

Running head: SDAD 564/565 JOURNAL ENTRY #5 UNDERSTANDING STUDENTS AND STUDENT ISSUES Students that started at a 4-year university, 65% finish in four years (p. 42). The three students I referred to earlier all had different but understandable reasons for not finishing their associates in two years or transferring and completing in four years. This makes me wonder how theyre

count, if at all, in studies like in the NCIES example. Students arent just dropping out of college and not persisting because they dont enjoy it or they dont find value, there are other commitments that pop up that cause students to be unable to continue quarter after quarter. Alternatively, it was common to have to tell a student that their plans to transfer within two years or less was not likely to happen given their math and English placement scores, availability of courses when needed and availability in class format all affected their persistence in my opinion. The look on students faces when they realize that they have to take a whole year of pre-requisite math before they can even start their college level math courses and then having to tell them that those pre-requisites dont count towards the degree their seeking and financial aid may not cover them is an extreme blow to a young students plan. This was a difficulty of working at a smaller community college where classes werent offered every quarter and students might have to wait a year or even two to start their math, chemistry, and biology series for biological science degree seekers. There are a lot of reasons students can stop attending school temporarily or permanently. Its understandable that they can get discouraged or want to completely change their educational plan based on information I gave them. As long as I am giving advice that affects a students future in higher education, I need to always remember that Im there to help them reach their educational goals. Its not my job to tell them they cant do something, shouldnt do something, change what they want or be a dream crusher. Its my job to understand what issues their facing, and help them overcome the hurdles that are in front of them.


Levine, A., Dean, D. R., & Levine, A. (2012). Generation on a tightrope: A portrait of today's college student (Third edition.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.