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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

Advice from Administrators
March 4, 2013 - 9:14pm

When we asked people that have been working in higher ed for more than a year for advice to people entering in similar positions to them, we received a wide variety of suggestions.  In this post we’ll share what administrators (who represented 36% of the 464 survey respondents, respectively) would advise those just entering a similar role.

Some of the advice was very encouraging:

“Go for it, it is a privilege to work in academia.”

“It's a great place to work. Rewarding, overall positive.”

“Your job can make a difference.”

“Stay. It's a good gig.”


Some focused on the importance of keeping the bigger picture in mind:

“Don't give up.  Rome was not built in a day.  Keep fighting to open up opportunities for these kids; there are those who need it!”

“It's a marathon. Not a sprint. There'll be good days, then they'll be days you wonder why you're here.”

“Be prepared for the tough days and celebrate the little victories in working with students.”


Some warned of what can be a deeply political atmosphere:

“It's an extremely political atmosphere with lots of inflated and easily bruised egos.  Beware.”

“It's not personal.”


Some focused on the importance of ongoing learning:

“Be patient, learn the landscape, network with others.”

“Read everything, read broadly, don't be afraid to speak up, and network.”

“Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.”

“Learn as much as possible about the entire institution and about what others do.”

“Find a mentor in your field (either on-campus or through a professional association) and utilize him/her.”

“Learn as much as you can and plan on continuing to learn throughout your career. Prepare for opportunities.”

“Get involved in professional organizations, read everything you can about the industry, and if you really want to move into management one day- get a terminal degree (it's the only currency in the higher ed job market),”

“Learn from everyone you can. Talk to people at all levels. Read everything about your institution and about the issues facing your institution and academia in general.”


Some suggested to invest the time to find the place that is the best fit for you:

“Learn everything you can about the various fields within higher ed so that you can find your exists, you just need to go looking for it.”

“Get experience in as many specialty areas of higher ed and types of schools as possible, so that you have a holistic view of how colleges operate.”

“Make sure the institution is a good fit for you.  My first position was not a great fit and i was miserable there.”

“Institutional fit is really important you don't want to get stuck working for some place that you regret.”


Some of the advice focused on remembering that ultimately, we are here for the students:

“…this is really all about the students -- forget the drama in your office/dept/building/campus.  In the end, what you do is to support students bettering themselves.”

“No matter the position a person has in higher education, their #1 priority is students, their success, and an obligation to use their money wisely. From the janitor to the president, ALL must have students' best interests in mind. If they don't, they should not be in higher education.”

“Never forget that you are here for the students.”

“Make a difference in the life of a student that you can connect with.  As many as you can - it is so very rewarding to be a mentor to someone.”

“Keep your focus on what is best for the students. Always.”

Are there other pieces of advice you would give to new administrators?


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