So, the past week or so my office has been partaking in some retreat sessions to discuss the aim, mission and goals of our department. One of my co-workers brought up the discussion of staying relevant with our students and how important should this be? When we were discussing this topic, it went beyond just learning new technology or being forward thinking with our marketing and event planning, it was down to the simplest level. Do we seem “old” to our students? Do we talk the right lingo? Should we know what’s popular in the movie theater, the latest Grammy drama, or what’s trending on twitter so that students can relate to us?
I mean..I’m all about tweeting out the latest Kanye West drama fest that is happening on a daily basis, but if I Bye Felicia a student, do they think I’m trying too hard and lose my authenticity?
Being my normal scholar self, I immediately got back to my office and began to research this idea. Nothing. Came. Up. Nothing. Not one blog, article, or scholarly research paper. There was nothing I could find on whether staying relevant on topics with students would help develop connections, or put a wedge in them.
I truly believe as an academic advisor our students look to us as supplemental parent figures for most of their academic life. I remember when I was a teenager, if my parents asked me to “chill on the weekend” with them, I’d roll my eyes and think “man you are trying waaayyyy too hard.” Is that what my students think of me? Should I even care?
Obviously it is always important for professionals in higher education to stay relevant when it comes to emerging technologies, marketing trends, and new theories and philosophies that are being developed, but it is important to stay relevant in the way I’m referring to?
I do think staying relevant is important, in a way. For example, the School of Management at UB has a Businessweek Survey that in the past we have to encourage our senior students to take the time to fill out. We needed to come up with a new creative way to do this. What did we do? Take the current media trends of the time and popular memes and try to create a poster campaign that our students would recognize and relate to.
…And it worked. Our students created a buzz about the posters, and we hit our target number of students earlier than we ever have in years past. In this sense, knowing the trends of the time was a huge gain for us. But is it needed for everyday conversations and advisement? Does it add a layer of relatability to students, or does it seem like we’re trying too hard?
I would like to know everyone else’s thoughts on this topic, leave your comments below!
University at Buffalo