The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 82

David Schmid * Jennifer Wagstaff

questions. There is a discrepancy among
SHOs between what they perceive as effective
helping skills versus the skills that are being
demonstrated on the job by entry-level housing
professionals. Furthermore, not all graduate preparation programs in student affairs
require courses in helping skills or counseling skills, which raises the question of where
entry-level housing professionals will learn
these important skills. These authors agree
with Williams (2017) that "the best residential
life departments employ skilled professional
master's-level staff members to hire, train and
supervise RAs" (para. 19), but there are three
issues with this point. First, not all institutions
can financially afford to hire staff with this
credential. This is due to the higher expected
salaries for individuals with master's degrees
and the budget crisis from 2008 forward,
since budget cuts at public colleges and universities impact student services, in addition to
other areas (Mitchell, Leachman, Masterson, &
Waxman, 2018). This first issue leads directly
to the second issue-the recruitment of qualified staff. At times, departments are faced with
the tough decision to hire those with minimal
qualifications rather than the preferred qualification of a master's degree in counseling/
student affairs or higher education. Departments may also choose to hire those with master's degrees but not require that the degrees
be in counseling or higher education; they may
be in business, social work, or other fields.
Finally, it is impossible to assume that every
master's program is alike in its preparation
of entry-level professionals; however, the researchers agree with Wilson (2008) that SHOs
should recruit individuals who are "better
prepared to handle the unique demands of

84

Housing and Residence Life operations" (p. 7).
Thus, SHOs should make a concerted effort to
hire staff who have education and training in
the area of helping skills.
A master's degree in counseling/student
affairs or higher education does not automatically equate to proficiency in the area of
helping skills. As noted in our findings, there
were numerous differences in the types of
counseling courses offered, and the majority of programs did not require a counseling
or helping skills course as part of the degree
requirement. This finding once again supports the need for ongoing training in the area
of helping skills. While no form of training
is going to completely prepare a professional
for every situation, an ongoing training model
of this nature will better prepare entry-level
housing professionals to provide the help that
students need and to make appropriate referrals. The authors recommend that graduate
programs that do not require a full course in
helping skills re-examine their curriculum to
determine where a helping skills unit or partial
class could be developed or included. With this
addition, students leaving master's programs
would be better prepared for the work ahead.
This curriculum change would also benefit the
residence life departments that employ graduate assistants enrolled in student affairs programs because the skill set they are learning in
class could be used immediately in their role.
In the same way that it is beneficial to re-examine course offerings, it is also worthwhile to
review internship requirements. Our findings
revealed that the majority of master's programs
required a supervised internship as part of the
academic course work. Given this requirement,

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Cover1
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