Jan. 12, 2023
We Asked You Answered:
Top Takeaways from the 2022 NACA School Member Survey
NACA Education & Research Coordinator
In November 2022, NACA school members provided the Association with a very generous gift – the gift of data. While to some this gift may not seem sparkly or exciting, it is one of the best gifts we could have received. The information collected through member feedback always allows the association to make data driven decisions and the 2022 NACA School Member Survey has a plethora of useful information to better serve NACA members in the new year. Below are some of the initial takeaways that might also prove beneficial to you, your students, and your colleagues.
Takeaway 1: A Variety of Functional Areas Fall Under Campus Activities
When referring to Campus Activities or campus engagement, a variety of functional areas are often included depending on the campus. According to NACA school members, the functional areas of student organizations (89%), programming board (87%), programming – campus-wide (83%), student government (70%), and leadership education (66%) are most likely part of campus activities/engagement. While these are the primary functional areas, it is important to share that staff in campus activities/engagement are also directly or very closely tied to diversity initiatives, orientation, space reservations/scheduling, community service/service learning, fraternity/sorority life, first-year experiences, and commuter student programming. Beyond the areas listed above, school members named an additional 47 “other” functional areas that are part of their work.
- What does this tell us? It reaffirms that professionals who support campus activities/engagement continue to stretch their skills and support to a wide variety of campus needs depending on the college or university. This also tells us that NACA should continue offering learning opportunities such as The Forum for Student Organization Advisors, Student Government Institute, and Programming Board Institute, as well as resources such as those found in ENCORE, our digital library.
Takeaway 2: Creating a Sense of Belonging is the Top Benefit of Student Involvement/Engagement
When staff were asked what they believe to be the top three benefits of student involvement/engagement on college campuses, 94% selected creating a sense of belonging. This was followed by relationship building (43%), retention (42%), personal development (39%), and leadership development (32%). Surprisingly, experiential learning (19%), enjoyment (12%), and professional development (9%) fell far to the bottom of the list.
- What does this tell us? The NACA vision “to create college communities where everyone belongs” strongly resonates with today’s campus environment. Sense of belonging continues to matter. While all options listed are important components to student involvement/engagement, it may prove beneficial to elevate enjoyment opportunities to assist with belonging, relationship building, and retention.
Takeaway 3: Staff Vacancies and Burnout Top Greatest Challenges
It is likely no surprise that there has been an increased awareness of and dialogue surrounding professional challenges within higher education (and, frankly, most employment sectors) in the past few years. When asked to select the top three greatest challenges currently being faced by NACA school members, responses included “staff vacancies in my department” (38%), “professional burnout among colleagues” (34%), “professional burnout personally” (29%), and “student retention/decreased campus enrollment” (27%).
- What does this tell us? From a positive lens, this tells us that staff can identify and articulate the challenges they, their peers, and students are facing. This tells us that continued advocacy work within higher education is necessary. Prioritizing and framing messages about balance and boundaries will continue to provide professionals with language and tools to set healthy and realistic expectations.
Takeaway 4: NACA Meets A Variety of Your Needs
Benefits of NACA membership, ranging from in-person conferences and institutes to virtual webinars and resource sharing platforms, are meeting a wide variety of needs. The NACA benefits sought out most by professional staff include NACA 24/7 (45%), NACA Connect (44%), NACA Conferences (42%), and NACA Virtual Programs (40%). When deciding whether to renew, school members cited that NACA Conferences (53%), NACA Live (37%), and NACA 24/7 (27%) are most critical and must be provided or renewal might not occur. While these are the greatest benefits, there are some perceived barriers to accessing the benefits such as “limited available time” (82%) and “the cost is more than my campus would agree to include in the budget” (77%).
- What does this tell us? Flexibility and accessibility are rightfully high priorities for NACA as benefits and services are developed and offered to school members. Creating on-demand opportunities to allow for personal and professional development to be accessed as time is available is important. Balanced with this, members are seeking in-person experiences. Opportunities such as NACA Live, NACA conferences, and NACA Institutes will continue to be planned with fiscal equity in mind allowing for them to be affordable for members.
The information provided above is a very, very small snapshot of the wealth of data we received from the 2022 NACA School Member Survey. Since the survey closed, we have been exploring the themes and identifying the data points that will guide decisions for the association. We look forward to continuing this exploration in the weeks and months to come.
Again, we appreciate the information you have shared, and we look forward to incorporating the relevant data into programs, resources, events, and services throughout the year. Oh…and we are hopeful for the gift of data again when we launch the 2023 School Member Survey this upcoming fall!
P.S. Associate members – you’re next! We will be launching a NACA Associate Member Survey in Spring 2023. The information you provide to NACA will be critical for the strategic work of our association. We thank you in advance for your thoughtful participation!
Leah Eickhoff is the education and research coordinator at the National Association for Campus Activities. With over 20 years of experience in higher education, she is passionate about creating experiences where students and professionals can learn and grow.