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

Survey Results: Why People Decide to Work in Higher Ed
January 10, 2013 - 9:26pm


As we reported last week, we have started rolling out the results of our fall surveys with those newer-to-higher ed (“newbies”) and those that have been in higher ed for a longer period of time (“veterans”).  Today we’ll let you know what these 464 people told us about why they decided to work in higher ed.


The results fell into four broad categories and a couple of smaller, more niche, categories:




The most common response was in the area of feeling that their job was their calling, what they were meant to do, a great fit with their skills.  Some of the responses include:


From a tenure-track faculty member: “I love my field (history). Pure and simple passion.”


From an administrator: “I really enjoy and feel good about working with students.”


From someone that both teaches and does administrative work: “Wanted meaningful work, even if at lower pay than I could get in corporate work.  The work is more interesting.  I can adjunct in addition to my administrative job, so I get to do something I love.”


There were also some great comments from those who say they love the mission/culture and/or atmosphere of higher ed:


From someone that both teaches and does administrative work: “Tried a career in finance, wanted my soul back.”


From someone with an “other” title: “It’s a living lab for great and meaningful ideas.”


From a tenure-track faculty member: “The pursuit of larger than financial or commercial gain; the appeal of working with unabashed enthusiasm year after year.”



Interestingly, there were several people that mentioned that higher education was “the family business,” including these two, both from administrators:


“Family tradition, to tell the truth.”


“Father was a professor.”


And a few “refugees from K-12, including this comment from an administrator, echoing a theme from many of them: “Secondary Ed wore me down.”


There weren’t too many differences between respondents based on their years of tenure, although those in higher ed for less than a year were significantly more likely to say they decided to work in higher ed for the opportunity for impact or to make a difference. 


Stay tuned for more next week, as we begin to report on the question, “What surprised you when you first began working in higher ed?”





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