Monday, March 27, 2017
Last week, we shared data about the importance of living on campus and participating in one of our living-learning programs.
In short, students who live on campus and engage in a living-learning program succeed at higher rates than students who live off campus. We also know that these students feel a deeper connection to the University and have a better understanding of the resources we offer to ensure their success.
Our on-campus community more effectively fosters the development of social networks that help students navigate the academic and social stresses of college. These results in student success are the “why” that drives our investment in modern campus quality of life facilities, deployment of additional personnel to support students, and the strategic plan metrics.
An integral part of our living communities is our contingent of residential advisors (RAs) – returning students who share our passion for supporting their fellow Wildcats.
Last week I had an opportunity to sit down with five of our RAs at a monthly lunch called “Monday on Mondays.” These RA students balance an incredible set of responsibilities: they’re counselors and connectors, supervisors and supporters, programmers and problem solvers, all while balancing a full course-load each semester. They are their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in the residence halls, placing themselves on the frontlines of building community and helping our students succeed at the University of Kentucky.
Hearing their stories reminded me that the data we collect and analyze in our decision-making process are important, but at the end of the day, the success of our students is a human process.
Student and Academic Life professionals and RAs provide an open door for our residents when they fall short on an exam, end a relationship, or—often, they told me—struggle with their home environment. The social realities of college can be as taxing on our students as the academic rigor, and our RAs help students navigate both. This frontline resource is unmatched in an off-campus environment.
This is why on-campus RAs play an integral role in our effort to boost student success.
At the same time, during our lunch conversation, the RAs shared ideas for improving our campus. We discussed inclusivity/diversity programming, adequate and accessible parking, community-wide programming, and affordability. It was an important dialogue about how we can improve our campus for all students.
I would like to thank these students for joining me and engaging in such a productive conversation.
The next Monday on Mondays luncheon will be on April 10, from 12-1:30 at La Madeleine. Any student is welcome to join the conversation. If interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by April 7 so that we can provide the restaurant with an expected number.
Have a great week.
Eric N. Monday