It’s that time of year again, the metro is once again bustling with high school students, Facebook is full of 1st day of school pictures, our residence halls are full, and our students are dutifully reading the introductory works for each of their classes. Every year like clockwork I find myself jealous of the exciting new educational challenges our students will face, the provocative readings, the challenging texts, and the words that leap from the page providing affirmation that this THIS is the subject of their dreams. As an avid bibliophile I can never get enough book recommendations, going so far as to ask students to show me their syllabus so I can find out what I should be reading next. This year instead of just living vicariously through their reading lists I’ve decided to put together my own reading syllabus for the semester. These books, new and old, jumped out at me as being strong reads for any student affairs professional. Some I picked up at the vendor fair at last year’s ACPA convention (one of my favorite parts of each convention, discounted books? YES PLEASE), others are late night amazon or goodreads searches. However they found their way onto my list, I recommend you take a look and tell me what you think!

First up we have Sonja Ardoin’s recent work The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career. With a foreward by Marcia Baxter Magolda, Ardoin does a superb job of outlining simple and accessible steps for making the most of your career in student affairs. Though it reads like something for new professionals I find myself taking notes about changes to make in my career planning and more than once I’ve thought “I wish someone had told me that” or “Where was this when I was interviewing with…”. The book covers a number of issues from job searching to the ever important issue of planning for professional development.  The book concludes with a section on self-reflection, something that is of critical importance at all levels of your career. This short read may offer you some insight into your own career.

Looking toward the future with the second book on the list, Generation Z Goes to College by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace. Looking specifically at students born between 1995 and 2010, Generation Z sets the stage for what we might expect from and what we need to consider for working with this new population. We have all spent so much time thinking about the “millennial” student but it’s time to shift focus to a new population. The book focuses on the results from a study of 1100 new college students and provides insights into not only what this population may be like but also how different they are from our current “millennial” population. Though the suggestions are only based on one study the book could spark conversation on how we will adjust our practices as we welcome this new group of students. Once I get past how old I feel thinking about where I was from 1995-2010 I’m excited to learn more.

As much as I love looking toward the future my real passion and interest is in the history of higher education. In the award winning The History of Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II, Roger Geiger goes deep into the story of how the American system of higher education developed. I know history isn’t for everyone but I truly think it is important to understand where our schools come from, how the American system of higher education developed, and to acknowledge how some of today’s education inequities have developed. The author presents the story in a true narrative format, reading more like a story than a history textbook. I’m excited to learn more about our higher ed past!


Books are a great way for you to stay abreast of and involved in current and cutting edge findings in our field. I read more than I do anything else so this has always been my favorite way of staying informed. I hope you find the above suggestions useful and maybe even enjoyable. Stay tuned to the blog for more book recommendations later this semester. If you have suggestions of your own tweet them to @mydccpa or post them on our facebook or linkedin pages! Happy Reading!!

The DCCPA Blog is a members open forum blog, if you are interested in sharing your thoughts, views, opinions, early research, or anything else related to higher education in DC let us know! We are always open to more posts, more authors, and more involvement just e-mail us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *