Everyone in higher education knows that student affairs staffer who goes out of their way to ensure every student request is fulfilled. Or the self-starter motivated by a personal passion for helping students overcome challenges. And, of course, there’s the department head who gladly tries any new process or protocol that might improve student success and outcomes.
At first glance, their characteristics seem like the ideal student support team–but looking closer, subtle warning signs lurk beneath the surface. That staff member who goes to any length to meet students’ needs might be undermining their long-term success. The self-starter’s autonomy could be standing in the way of a cohesive team dynamic. By the same token, the leader who readily switches from one priority to another may be unintentionally creating whiplash for their team.
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Sometimes we inadvertently create obstacles to student success through our own actions. Despite our best intentions, the best interests of the student can get lost. Identifying and addressing these obstacles can help colleges become more student-centric–enhancing student support as well as student success and outcomes. Here are five common pitfalls that colleges encounter as they undertake that difficult, but essential, task.