Equity and Student Services

by Devean R. Owens, Chauntee R. Thrill, and Marci Rockey / Jun 23, 2017

Due to their location in the higher education hierarchy there are many inequities community college student affairs and services professionals face that are counter to their efforts to holistically and effectively support student success. In our feature brief, Equity and Student Services, we outline the provision of student support services in the community college context, applying a “traditional” student support framework in the community college context, and the role of professional development for staff members. The conclusion provides next steps for future research as well as ideas to improve the current state of student services in community colleges.

All students require academic, social, and personal support; however, the degree of support needed is often higher among community college students. Community college students commonly balance a complex set of responsibilities. As a result they often need more flexibility in course offerings, student activities, and student support services to be successful. Serving a community college population creates nuances in the experiences of student affairs and student support professionals. Enhancing delivery of services, improving knowledge attainment, and ensuring student success are benefits of professional development for the institution, employee, and students (Diaz, 2013). Community college student affairs professionals frequently access professional development via local and state organizations or conferences, as distance, understaffing, and expense often hinder community college personnel from attending larger national conferences or training.

Community colleges are dealing with numerous variables and challenges whilst trying to ensure the success of their students. Adequate resources, including access to and support for professional development, are needed to improve the quality of services offered by community colleges. The unique structure and issues community colleges possess create distinct situations that must be addressed delicately and directly. Potential areas for research and practice include developing partnerships between faculty and student affairs professionals, engaging students via student employment, studying the experiences of satellite campus staff and students, designing and assessing learning outcomes in student affairs, and assessing the value of student affairs in retention efforts.

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  • Diaz, A. S. (2013). Illinois community college chief student services officers’ support for the professional development of college middle managers: An adult learning perspective (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest LLC. (3596641)