Celebrating the Colleague-Student

Why those that are juggling full-time higher ed employment and part-time student life are so productive and valuable.

July 2, 2014

Are you working full-time in higher ed while also pursuing a higher ed degree?

Are you one of those academic professionals that combines a demanding career with an intensive graduate program?

Are you mixing a full-days work with online and / or low-residency coursework?

People like you, let’s call you a colleague-student, (can we think of a better name?), seem to be everywhere in academia.  And that is a very good thing.

In my experience, those academic professionals that are also pursuing an advanced degree are the most productive of employees.

They are:

Very Good At Time Management:  You need to be if you are going to get all the work work and academic work done, not to mention meeting family demands.  Anyone that is not able to meet deadlines and complete quality work will quickly wash out out a degree program, and these traits tend to extend across work and school domains.

Thoughtful About Larger Higher Ed Issues:  Most of the academic people that I know who are pursuing an advanced degree are doing so in a field that is directly related to their work and higher ed.  They bring all sorts of new knowledge and new thinking into discussions and planning at work.

Oriented Towards a Growth Mindset:  Anyone making the sacrifices to work full-time while getting an advanced degree believes in the ability to grow, change and learn new things.  I’ve come to believe that a growth mindset is amongst the most important attribute in determining the value of a colleague.

Knowledgeable About How Higher Ed Looks Like For the Student Perspective:   If you are simultaneously working in higher ed and a customer of higher ed you are going to learn a great many things about what could be done better.  When we leave the student role we tend to forget what the experience looks like from student eyes.  The ability to bring back this student perspective to our higher ed work is a key benefit that our matriculated colleagues (is that a better term?) bring back to work.

Long-Term Career Thinkers:  First, it takes a long-time to get an advanced degree while working full-time.  The perseverance and grit necessary to juggle work, school and family are key traits in determining professional productivity.  Investing the time (and money) into an advanced degree while working full-time almost always signals a strong commitment to the profession.   They want to grow their careers in responsibility and authority, and getting a graduate degree in the field that they work is often the best way to meet these goals.

Do you think that the value of colleague-students (or matriculated-colleagues) is recognized on your campus and in higher ed in general?

Do we do enough to support and encourage our colleagues who are in the midst of pursuing graduate work?

What has been your experience either juggling full-time higher ed work and school, or working with those that do?


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