The Higher Ed Advantage

May 14, 2009

Posted in Higher Ed.

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Working in a higher education environment can be really tough. It’s often accepted that the pay is lower, resources are scarce, and the culture is risk- and change-averse. It can be tough.

But there are some great things about working in higher education, too.


Online learning from blogs are great and all, but there’s a lot of fantastic research done by really brilliant people and they’re not posting it on their blogs. They’re publishing in academic journals. But subscriptions journals and other publications can cost a LOT of money. Schools do that for you – so use them! Don’t fall into the trap of believing that libraries are relics. If you have a decent library website with an online search – seriously, why wouldn’t it?! – go try out some searches (results obviously vary based on your school’s subscriptions):

  • admissions marketing
  • social media marketing
  • web design usability

Learning, Part Deux

Many schools make up for the lower pay with tuition benefits. Access to courses and programs can help you propel your career forward. Get a Master’s degree, learn a second language, or simply have some fun. Classes are the lifeblood of most schools, so don’t forget to tap into them.


Higher education respects research. This is your chance to design and carry out your own research studies. And publishing your own research (even if it’s just on a blog) is a fantastic way to build credibility in the community. Just ask Rachel Reuben.

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One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. Many institutions would love to hire their staff as adjunct faculty to teach classes. Make a little extra cash, build some great relationships, and add a really impressive line to your resume: college professor. It seems all my friends are doing this and they seem to love it.

The Bar is Low

Sorry to say it, higher ed is often far behind the commercial world. Which means that many schools look and act like it’s 2002. The obvious advantage here is that it doesn’t take much to impress (though it’s getting harder). But this can work against you, too, since there’s little motivation to continue pushing yourself. But a more powerful advantage is that it can be easier to build trust in your abilities and take some risks. If you can, use this to gain access to cool, cutting-edge tools and have some fun.

Everything Else

Most campuses have a lot of services available to the staff such as exercise facilities, comprehensive benefits, educational discounts on computer stuff, and a conference-happy culture. Combined with the above, is higher ed really that bad?