If one were to compare the variety of positions in post-secondary education with the great peaks of the Earth, college president is akin to Mount Everest: it’s the highest, most prestigious of them all. Furthermore, also much like the magnificent landmass, few have ascended to the top of the post-secondary education world without a tremendous amount of effort and exertion along the way – both in the mental and the physical sense of the term.
Fortunately, with a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership from institutions such as Maryville University, graduates may be more prepared for this position. At the same time, though, a significant climb awaits to successfully reach the summit of the university system’s administrative hierarchy. The following will detail some of what it takes to become a college or university president, along with commentary from both current and former post-secondary education leaders who know what it is like and who have experienced the challenges up close and personal.
The current state of post-secondary education leadership
To begin, it helps to get an understanding of the post-secondary education industry and where it currently stands today in terms of growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, there are roughly 175,000 post-secondary education administrators in the labor force at present. Between 2014 and 2024, an additional 15,200 jobs are expected to open, which translates to an above-average growth rate of approximately 9 percent. Among all U.S.-based occupations, the growth rate is right around 7 percent.
Part of the reason for the faster-than-normal growth derives from swelling levels of enrollment because an increasing number of industries require degrees for hires to be considered as eligible for employment. Reported by The Wall Street Journal in May, of the 3.1 million high school seniors who graduated in 2016, approximately 70 percent of them enrolled in a postsecondary institution, according to Labor Department figures. That’s the highest share in more than 55 years.