The K.E.Y. to Professional Development: Keep Educating Yourself

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Kristin Wyninegar, University of Arkansas

April 10, 2017

Student Affairs and Higher Education is an ever-growing field that requires professionals to keep up with new trends not only in the field but society as a whole. As a rising student affairs professional, I have found that the best way to keep up with new trends is to continue educating myself. For a long time, I felt there was only one professional development opportunity: conferences. While conferences are an incredible professional development tool, there are a variety of resources worthy of being noted.

Check out these free or lost costs professional development opportunities:

  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
    • Colorado State University offers MOOCS in Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs, Exploring the Student Affairs in Higher Education Profession, and the Science of Relationships
    • You can find an entire list of all MOOC courses at
  • Always Be Reading: An excellent way to stay up to date with current trends and news at universities across the country is to read!
    • Inside Higher Ed:Inside Higher Ed is the leading digital media company serving the higher education space. Born digital in the 21st Century at the height of the Internet revolution, our publication has become the trusted, go-to source of online news, thought leadership, and opinion over the last decade.“
    • The Chronicle of Higher Education:The Chronicle's website features the complete contents of the latest issue; daily news and advice columns; thousands of current job listings; an archive of previously published content; vibrant discussion forums; and career-building tools such as online CV management, salary databases, and more.”
  • Join the Student Affairs Collective Writing Team! The Student Affairs Collective is a community of student affairs professionals that share ideas and current programs on their campus. To learn how to apply for their writing team follow this link:
  • Get involved on your NASPA Region board and/or a Knowledge Community! You can find open volunteer positions on the NASPA website under Volunteer Central or follow this link:
  • Create a Book Club amongst your colleagues/classmates! At the University of Arkansas, The Higher Education Organization created a book list. The list includes self-help books, student affairs books, and books for fun! Reading a book can be time-consuming so remember to be creative! If there is a book that a few people want to read, maybe take turns reading the chapters and discussing the take-a-ways or giving an overview.
  • Network! Network, network, network! What we do with those connections is what matters the most! Are you researching a new idea or program for your department? Utilize your network! Contact them to see what they are doing on their campus or if they know of a colleague you can speak with you.

There are many ways to grow and learn, whether that entails attending a conference, writing a blog, or reaching out to a colleague. Be creative and remember the KEY to Professional Development: Keep Education Yourself!

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