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Employing Student Success: A Comprehensive Examination of On-Campus Student Employment

Career and Workforce Development Student Career Development Mid-Level
February 15, 2019 Alexa Wesley Chamberlain Alexis Wesaw Omari Burnside Dr. Amelia Parnell

This report explores how colleges and universities design and administer on-campus student employment as a high-impact practice. NASPA examined the current condition of on-campus employment opportunities and identified promising practices and components of robust programs.

This report identifies ways to support and scale conditions of highly impactful employment programs, which include a focus on leadership engagement, equitable hiring processes, growth and professional development opportunities, student learning outcomes, and assessment and evaluation. Institutions that have demonstrated a willingness to advance the practice can engage in thoughtful planning and build upon their existing infrastructure to actualize goals for on-campus employment. The landscape analysis will help inform and offer guidance for colleges and universities that consider on-campus employment as an underutilized resource and are seeking to transform the practice into a powerful means of advancing student success.

Traditionally seen as a way for institutions to help students alleviate some of the financial demands placed on them, on-campus student employment has several additional benefits institutions can leverage to assist students along their collegiate journey. Throughout the years, institutions of higher education have advanced the use of the Federal Work-Study program and institutionally funded campus-based employment opportunities to provide students supporting campus operations with modest financial support (McClellan, Creager, & Savoca, 2018). However, if designed and operationalized effectively, institutions can use their on-campus student employment program to provide students with meaningful learning and engagement opportunities that can help with retention and build career-readiness skills.

The degree to which a particular on-campus employment opportunity serves as a high-quality, developmental experience can depend on the various work conditions, processes, and policies an institution has in place. To better understand how institutions actualize the benefits of on-campus employment, NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education conducted a landscape analysis that examined the current condition of on-campus employment opportunities and identified promising practices and components of programs characteristic of a highly impactful practice.

The landscape analysis adds to existing research and informs the field’s understanding in several areas:

  • current data regarding the range of on-campus student employment opportunities by institutional type and sector;
  • variety of promising practices being implemented at the division and/or institution level;
  • degree to which student employment is being implemented and leveraged at the institution level as a student success strategy;
  • extent to which institutions are assessing the effect of employment on various student success measures; and
  • barriers to administering, sustaining, and improving student employment.

The bulk of this report unfolds in three sections. The first two sections provide foundational information on how student employment is currently administered at institutions. The first section presents survey data that highlight three main drivers that influence an institution’s student employment program: program goals, institutional contexts, and environmental factors. The second section answers general and operational questions about on-campus student employment programs, such as typical funding sources, management structure and key activities, top hiring areas across the campus, wage determination factors, and average hours worked. The third section draws on insights from an extensive review of existing research, campus interviews, and site visit data, and presents a list of capacity areas and practices that institutions can use to elevate their student employment program into a high-impact practice. Survey data analysis is used to show the current use of these practices at institutions.