Career: College Administrator
College administrators make recommendations about admissions; oversee the disbursement
of university materials; plan curricula; oversee all budgets from payroll to maintenance of
the physical plant; supervise personnel; keep track of university records (everything from student
transcripts to library archives); and help students navigate the university bureaucracy for
financial aid, housing, job placement, alumni development, and all the other services a college
provides. Many administrators eventually specialize in one field, such as financial aid, in which
responsibilities include the preparation and maintenance of financial records and student
counseling about financial aid. Specialists in
information management are responsible for
coordinating and producing the majority of
university publications. Administrators who specialize in student affairs (sometimes referred to
as student services) deal with residence life, student activities, career services, athletic administration,
service learning, health education, and counseling.
Competition begins with the onset of a specialization. At upper levels, a graduate degree
in education, business, student personnel administration, counseling, or information management
is required. The hours increase, and administrators spend even more time away
from the office at university events or other schools.
There are stringent academic requirements for positions as college administrators.
While entry-level positions in financial aid offices, registrar’s offices, and admissions and academic
offices often require only a bachelor’s degree, a PhD or an EdD is standard among
those who hold influential positions in college administrations. Candidates for administrative
positions should have good managerial instincts, strong interpersonal skills, and the
ability to work effectively with faculty and students. People involved in the financial aspects
of administration, including administering financial aid, should have significant statistics
backgrounds and mathematical skills. Computer proficiency is necessary at all levels.
Universities are just that: miniature universes. Most of their administrations involve all
functions of a big corporation, even a small city, within the larger community in which they
are located. A person can work for the same university for 20 years and have 20 different jobs
during that time!
Many college administrators remain college administrators, rather than switch to a different
field; 40 percent are career-for-life administrators. People who leave often become professors,
teachers, corporate managers, financial aid officers, or human resource coordinators
in a variety of settings.