Rentz’s Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education (Fifth Edition). Naijijian Zhang and Associates $69.95, 970-0-398-09119-4, 2016, 640pp. Hardback
Jeremy J. Hernandez, Ph.D.
Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
For those new to the field of student affairs and/or practitioners wanting to learn more about other dimensions of the profession, the 5th edition of Rentz’s Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education is a fine resource to begin exploring. The book itself is broken into three main parts. The first section is devoted to the history and development of the field. The second section, which makes up the bulk of the book, focuses on individual functional areas within student affairs such as student advising, admissions, and residence halls. The authors specifically note that this edition differs from prior versions of this text as it has added chapters on Greek life, student recreation, and student learning assessment (Zhang and Associates, 2016, vxiii). Many of the individual chapters devoted to functional areas also attempt to project challenges and opportunities into the future for those areas. The third section is the final chapter which attempts to project how the entire field will evolve and face challenges into the future.
The main purpose of this book is to provide an overview of the various aspects of the field. More experienced readers may be disappointed by a perceived lack of depth regarding major issues affecting the field as, in some instances, only a page or two is devoted to a given topic when volumes about said topic could be written. That said, what this book lacks in perceived depth is more than made up for in the sheer breadth of topics discussed. In broad strokes, the chapters really showcase both the opportunities and challenges throughout the field of student affairs. The authors make a genuine effort to include major citation sources throughout the text and provide up-to-date online resources for readers to access if they wish to learn more about any specific area mentioned.
Overall this text is great sampler for both early career practitioners and graduate students interested in learning more about various career options in the student affairs field. If I were teaching an introductory class on student affairs I think it would be a great addition so long as supplementary readings were included to add depth to key topics. For more experienced practitioners, as was the case for this reviewer, some chapters will be far more interesting that others depending on one’s area(s) of expertise. Fortunately, the editors’ choice to organize most chapters by functional area allow for very easy reference and selective reading.
In conclusion, I would recommend this book to people new to the profession and those interested in learning about different aspects of the field. More experienced practitioners may not get as much raw value from the entirety of the text but it would still be a good resource to have on hand if one needed an overview on other aspects of their field.
Zhang and Associates (2016). Rentz’s Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education (Fifth Edition), Charles C. Thomas Publishing, Springfield, IL.