One of the core courses we’re required to take as Higher Education students at Warner is College Students and Student Development theory. The course walks you through theories borrowed from other disciplines to understand the cognitive, psychology, social, racial, gender, and moral development that students go through during college. The purpose of the class is to use these theories to help higher education practitioners best support their students.
Although we are frequently asked to apply theory to student case studies, we are also required to apply these theories to ourselves. Throughout the course we are asked to reflect upon our undergraduate career and discuss how certain theories pertained or didn’t pertain to our experience.
I have found that this exercise has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. This type of reflection requires a keen awareness and analytical mindset; it requires an objective view on an inherently subjective experience. However, these reflections can often lead to revelation or at the very least a much better understanding of one’s self.
The purpose of this exercise is revealed to me through this quote by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu,
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
As future (and current) higher education administrators and student affairs professionals, if we can recognize how we have developed and are still developing, we are in a better position to meet students where they are in their development to best serve them.