WASHINGTON, March 12, 2019 — Colleges and universities make major, ongoing investments in on-campus employment programs—and a new report released today by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education highlights changes institutions can make to maximize the impact of those programs on student learning, engagement, and career readiness.
The report, Employing Student Success: A Comprehensive Examination of On-Campus Student Employment, found that colleges and universities often view on-campus employment as more than a source of financial resources for students. A growing number of institutions surveyed for the report are using on-campus employment to boost both career-readiness skills and student success. Not all student employment programs are, however, designed with student engagement—and the opportunity for improved retention and completion—in mind.
“On-campus student employment is often an underused resource that can dramatically enhance students’ college experience and better connect them to careers,” said Omari Burnside, Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Practice at NASPA. “By illuminating both the challenges—and potential—of employment programs, we hope to help institutions retool their approach to improve student outcomes.”
The report, which was based on a national survey, site visits, and in-depth interviews with on-campus student employment leaders, practitioners, and students sat more than 230 two- and four-year public and private institutions, emphasizes the importance of better alignment between student employment programs and students’ career objectives, classroom learning, and campus engagement opportunities. More than 60 percent of survey respondents, however, found that funding constraints present the greatest barrier to better coordinating student employment opportunities.
The report highlights five findings that can inform institutional efforts to improve coordination and heighten the impact of on-campus employment:
- Senior leadership engagement is critical.
- Multiple communication channels are needed to explain to students the benefits on working on-campus and to inform them about on-campus positions.
- Supervisors are the linchpin of the student employee experience.
- Institutions should have a shared understanding of what student employees should be and are actually learning.
- Data usage for the purposes of analyzing and sharing the impact of student employment is an area for improvement among many institutions.
In addition to the findings of NASPA’s in-depth research, the report profiles institutions that are already leading the way with high impact student employment programs. The University of Texas at El Paso, for example, raised the profile of student employment—and improved consistency across its campus—by creating a high-level coordinating position three years ago. Other institutions, including Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Clemson University, and Valencia College, have created specialized employment programs for students who are interested in more rigorous work aligned with their academic studies and career plans.
“As the connection between college and career takes center stage in the national dialogue about the relevance of higher education, campus leaders have the opportunity to better use existing resources to provide meaningful on-campus work experiences for students,” said NASPA President, Kevin Kruger. “Doing so is a common sense way to help students integrate classroom learning and workplace competencies, while providing much-needed financial support.”
NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. We serve a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of our colleges and universities.