Eric Stoller's blog

| higher education consulting |

Higher Education Administrator

3 comments



Apparently I have one of the best jobs in the United States. According to U.S. News and World Report, one of the best careers in 2009 is “higher education administrator“.

The article starts off innocently enough:

If you liked attending college, chances are you’ll like working there, too.

Check. I enjoyed attending college and I enjoy working in higher education.

Compared with most office environments, college surroundings are beautiful, the atmosphere intellectually stimulating, and the work hours more forgiving.

The environment at institutions of higher education is indeed a beautiful place, both aesthetically and intellectually. However, I’m not sure if Mr. Nemko has ever worked an all night event at a student union or staffed a summer orientation program. The work hours of higher education administrators are more like a rollercoaster. Sometimes we work a 9 to 5. Sometimes we’re upside down and moving at 60 miles an hour while trying to facilitate a program with over 200 students on an early Saturday morning.

And things really lighten up in the summer.

Once again, summer isn’t really “light”. A lot of higher education administrators are at their busiest during the summer sessions.

For better or worse, there are lots of management jobs on campus because university bureaucracies tend to be large, from student affairs to academic affairs, admission to alumni affairs, physical plant to student health service.

Umm. Large support structures exist because we have a lot of students at our institutions. It takes a lot of people to create a university community.

One downside: Office politics can be brutal. Political correctness also bothers some people, who feel that holding liberal views is a litmus test for getting hired or promoted.

I’ve often found it disappointing that people label justice, equity and dignity as “political correctness.” I’d rather work with people who are not racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, etc. What’s so brutal about that?

Smart Specialties – Student Affairs/Student Life. The work is unusually pleasant

That’s an interesting combination: unusual and pleasant. Maybe Student Affairs work is just pleasant and because a lot of jobs are not, they define what is and is not pleasant. Maybe unpleasant jobs should be the ones that are unusual and not the norm…?

Learn more: NAPSA Student Affairs Careers Page

Apparently news editor is not one of the best careers of 2009. It’s N-A-S-P-A.

The article currently has 19 comments. They are actually more interesting to read than the actual article…

  • http://bqhoover.wordpress.com Britt Q.

    This post is SO January 13, 2009. Yeesh.

    The mag were right that it’s a great job and field… but not because of the reasons they offered. I agree with you that this article set many unrealistic expectations. It’s a great job (on most days) but it is not for everyone and it takes certain skills to be successful in Student Affairs. Plus, they make it seem like they are just giving away these jobs (“Competition for these jobs is less rigorous than for academic ones…”) and that it’s a fast growing industry, when the reality is we are going to start seeing a lot of personnel cuts soon. Poor journalism at best.

  • Ruth

    I was interested to see that the way that U.S. News assessed the best careers was in the following regards: “the best outlook in this recessionary economy (and beyond), the highest rates of job satisfaction, the least difficult training necessary, the most prestige, and the highest pay”.

    Upon review I find it hard to see how higher educational administrator would get high marks in many of these areas. Job satisfaction is surely something that lots of student affairs professionals cite as a reason for loving their job, but as you noted that comes with long and unusual work hours. Higher ed is being hit hard by the economy and administration jobs are usually the first on the chopping block. I am also quite positive that prestige or pay will ever win somone over to our side.

    While it may be considered a best career, I think that a trend in higher ed will be services to retain administrators.

  • Kris

    Sorry…still trying to get over the “things really lighten up in the summer” comment….

%d bloggers like this: