“So what is your plan after college?”
“What do you plan on doing when you graduate?”
“What do you want to be?”
“Why would you want to work in the dorms again?”
“Why do you need to go to graduate school when you already when to school for 4-5 years?”
“Wait… what are you doing?”
These are just a plethora of questions I get asked whenever I talked about my career of working in the field of Higher Education. A lot of people do not understand this relatively newer field as many people do not go to college to work at a college for the rest of their life. I will even admit: I did not even think I would consider working at a University once I graduate. However, as life changes and experiences happen in life, so does what you are passionate for. From being involved in my college career, talking to a diverse amount of people with different life experiences, and seeing the challenges a student may face to go to college or succeed at college, I have decided my future career passion belongs in the field of Higher Education.
However, this career change is and has not been easy. My sophomore year (2014), I realized this career change as someone going into Secondary Social Studies Education. I had a lot of choices to make with myself, but so little time. Ultimately, I decided to finish out my college career with my teaching degree so I not only have a better understanding about education, but a better understanding of how to help others. In addition, if I decided to switch, I would have ended up staying for the same amount of time I have been here now (around five years). But the hardest part of this change was explaining this to my family and friends, who all asked numerous questions not understanding such a change. Some people understood when I explained about my future career field. However, three years later from 2015, I still have people that do not and possibly will not understand what I want to do with my life. So, I decided instead of trying to talk in circles and think of the easiest way to explain it, I decided to write this in hopes that not only my family and friends will understand, but maybe anyone who is having the same problem as I am could have this as a helpful guide and resource to explaining this future passion.
First thing is first, what is Higher Education? When looking up Higher Education, one can refer to this as “education beyond high school, specifically working at a University or College.” This means someone going into the field of Higher Education is planning on working for a University or College in one of many capacities. So what does this entail from here? Someone looking at this may wonder what it means to work at a University.
Higher Education can be described into two major categories: The academic side, and the service side. When one thinks about the academic side, this refers to class and course work, professors conducting their research, and anything that involves learning. So when a student goes to class and hears a lecture from a professor or completes a field experience of some sort, this is more associated with the academic side of higher education.
When referring to the service aspect of higher education, this involves the helping services for students. This involves the academic advisors who are helping students plan their lives, the hall directors in residence halls providing a safe community for students, the professionals who work to create involvement opportunities for students, the professionals who create the orientation programs for incoming students, and so much more. These services help the field of higher education function in many different capacities. While these aspects may involve academic components, they ultimately are not the services that deal with the direct in-class learning one may be thinking of. The service aspect of higher education is what you may call the “out-of-class learning.” This learning includes a development upon self-skills, learning about topics important in the world today, and even learning about an area one may realized they have passion for but never knew until now.
The next big question people ask me involves the following: “So what kind of jobs can you apply for?”
This question has well over hundreds of answers for jobs. Every University in the country is set up differently from one another. A huge example of this involves private and public institutions. Both of these function differently, and ultimately may have different focuses as a school. One school may have a ton of involvement opportunities while another school may focus 90% on academics. This makes the job search that much harder because every school has different needs. However, that does not mean there are not a lot of higher education jobs out there.
According to HigherEdJobs, an online resource that helps professionals view job across the country and even the world, the “number of jobs of higher education increased by 0.6%, or 22,100 jobs, during the first quarter of 2017” (HigherEdJobs Report). This means that there are about 2,196,819 jobs in higher education (22,100 is 1.006% of that number). In that same report, HigherEdJobs talks about the opportunities they alone provide for employers and employees in the field:
“HigherEdJobs is the leading source for jobs and career information in academia. The company’s website, http://www.higheredjobs.com, receives more than 1.5 million unique visitors a month. During 2016, roughly 5,400 colleges and universities posted 215,000 faculty, administrative, and executive job postings to HigherEdJobs” (HigherEdJobs Report).
What these numbers show is that there are a ton of opportunities to obtain employment in the field of higher education. What that job is depends on what you apply for, and what you want. For me, I want to apply to work in an Admissions Office, Orientation Office, or Housing Office because I want to help students learn in social aspects, and gain interest in University Life through involvements. However, one can apply for many different kinds of jobs.
Here are some offices in the service area of Higher Education that one can work for:
- Counseling Center
- Sexual Aggression Services
- Student Conduct
- Career Services
- Residence Life
- Leadership Institute
- Volunteer Center
- Student Activities and Involvement
- Undergraduate Admissions
- Graduate Admissions
- Marketing and Recruiting
- University Recreation
- Academic Advising
- Student Success
- Diversity Education
….. and many more.
One can even pursue moving up in the field of Higher Education to work as an Associate Vice President of an office, a Director of an office, or even work on a Board of Trustees at a University. The more you move up, the less interaction with students. In addition, when one moves up, there are more responsibilities. These responsibilities even include talking to government officials, working to make sure your University is accredited, or even working to improve a whole department in a University.
Overall, one can see that there are many opportunities. These are not even all of the field and types of jobs in Higher Education. The list can be infinite depending on what a University needs. From here, one needs to think about what they want to work for in regards to Higher Education careers.
For me, I plan to further my education by going to graduate school to understand the field better, and to create more opportunities to help future college students. From here, I do not have a set goal of where I want to end up or what I want to do. As long as I am happy with what I am doing, supporting my future family, and helping students succeed in college, then I will be happy. Here’s to the future and to helping people one college student at a time!
To find more sources to help understand the field better, or to even show your peers more materials about the field of higher education, view the sources below: