No years are quite like the ones spent at college. From the deep conversations in the dorms to the inspirational moments in class, the college experience can truly shape you. That is why many professionals choose to work in the field of higher education. If you have a passion for reaching college students, a master’s degree in higher education may be a great fit for you. There are multiple careers in higher education to pursue. Meet a few real-life professionals who are making an impact through their careers in higher education.
Resident Director – Gershom Tadesse
A resident director’s role is to facilitate dorm life. Resident directors (RDs) program opportunities for students to connect with others, ensure that community standards are being upheld, guide student leaders in the dorms, and work to make personal connections with new students. For Gershom Tadesse, being a resident director is more than a job.
“What I love about careers in higher education is that you get to build personal connections with students. I get to be a bridge to connect students to their new community and have positive experiences on campus.”
A great RD is someone who enjoys new relationships, has keen social awareness, and is able to seek wisdom when handling disciplinary situations.
“It’s so important to be objective and fair,” explains Tadesse. “There will be students from all different walks of life and backgrounds, so it’s key to make sure you are truly listening to their stories.”
A master’s in higher education can help you become a better RD because you’ll be able to maximize your impact. With education on the newest trends and strategies for resident directors, you’ll be able to use your strengths to the best of your abilities.
If you desire to be a guide, friend, and leader to students, then a role as a resident director could be perfect for you!
Associate Dean of Diversity – Cokiesha Bailey Robinson
When choosing from careers in higher education, an associate dean of diversity is a unique opportunity to consider! An associate dean of diversity is someone who deeply cares about all students and advocates for students in various walks of life. This individual should reflect a biblical lens as they build up leaders, establish goals, and communicate with campus departments to see campus life thrive. Cokiesha Bailey Robinson, associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at Grace, knows that her role is vital and makes sure to pursue her students every day.
“My role is to help students navigate cultural differences, share perspectives of students of all backgrounds, make sure students feel that they belong, advocate for students of color, create programming for students with disabilities, and foster relationships with leaders to help propel the mission of biblical inclusion on campus,” shares Robinson.
Robinson loves to play the roles of Christian mentor, friend, and teacher. Her passions include seeing people discover the love of Jesus as they treat their neighbors with compassion.
“I view working in higher education as work for the next generation,” she shares. “This is a role that I hope outlives me. Diversity matters to God, and it matters to me, so I hope that what students learn from me is educational, inspirational, and foundational as they move forward to enjoy a full life.”
To be successful in this role, an associate dean of diversity should possess strong communication, leadership, and administrative skills. If you are considering this field, you should be collaborative and possess a strong sense of cultural intelligence and sensitivity.
“Of course the most important thing is a love for students and student life,” shares Robinson. “In a Christian school, I hope that your faith drives every single thing you do!”
A master’s in higher education degree will help you prepare educationally and socially to be marketable in any field and will help you lead with a faith-based lens to promote excellence, community, learning, serving, leadership, biblical justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Learning never stops in this program nor in higher ed!” shares Robinson. “This program will help students develop curiosity and a thirst for perspectives that take them beyond their own context.”
If you have a desire to see every student find a place on campus, then this role could be a great fit for you!
Career Success Coordinator – Jaclyn Forshtay
Among the other careers in higher education, career success coordinator is a key supporter for students. In this role, Jaclyn Forshtay helps students make realistic decisions about their vocational goals through personalized career coaching and training. She meets with students to build and strengthen their resumes and cover letters, discuss job searching strategies, and practice their interview skills. She also serves as an employer liaison to help connect hiring organizations to job- and internship-seeking students. As a department, the Career Connections Center provides career-related guidance in senior seminars and plans various professional development events in order to help students have an informed and effective career launch.
“I really enjoy getting to know our students on an individual basis and love to watch their vocational journey from uncertain freshmen to confident and career-ready graduates!” Forshtay says. “I often hear feedback from our students and alumni that the career-coaching meetings and professional development events they attended were helpful in their vocational preparation.”
In order to be successful as a career coach, it is important for you to be organized and detail-oriented. It is helpful if you can easily connect with others and practice good listening and communication skills. An added benefit is the skill of planning large-scale events and social media marketing!
Having a master’s in higher education provides the knowledge to connect with and understand students’ needs as they identify the next steps in their vocational journey.
“Someone working in higher education leads by example every single day!” shares Forshtay. “As with so many careers in higher education, we are lifelong learners! We want to see this lifelong learning in our students!”
Admissions Representative – Courtney Thompson
An admissions counselor works with incoming college students. Whether it is meeting in person with prospective students and their parents on their visit; communicating with students daily via email, text, and call to give them next steps for coming to college; or traveling to high schools and college fairs to introduce college to students and their parents, Courtney Thompson loves her role and gives it her all.
“I love getting to work on the amazing undergraduate admissions team at Grace!” Thompson shares. “Every day, we get to collaborate on how to best help students in the college search process. Most importantly, we prioritize having fun together which can include going for team walks, playing games, and getting the occasional lunch together.”
Though this job always entails learning new skills, one of the skills Courtney has found helpful in this role is adaptability. In admissions, every season in the year looks different which heavily affects the day-to-day schedule. It is important to be ready and open to adjusting when needed.
Having a master’s in higher education has prepared Courtney for her role. Many of the papers she wrote in this program were on topics such as diversity, financial systems, and mental health in the world of higher education.
Dean of Students – Aaron Crabtree
If you have strong leadership and management skills, you may be drawn to becoming a dean of students. A dean of students needs to possess strong decision-making skills, supervision abilities, and problem-solving skills. What not everyone knows is that a dean of students often heads up budgets and finance, works as a human resource advocate, and manages calendars. Aaron Crabtree, dean of students at Grace, takes all of this in stride, knowing that the end goal — as it is for all careers in higher education — is to help students thrive.
“It’s amazing to see the incredible transformation over just three-five years in students’ lives,” Crabtree says. “I love the opportunity to work closely with students, employees, and parents.”
Crabtree also enjoys the variety his role brings. He collaborates across the entire institution, using every opportunity he can to educate and support.
“Teamwork is key in this role,” he shares. “I wish I’d pursued a master’s in higher education, but I’m grateful for my seminary degree as I use my theological and intercultural training often. A master’s in higher education would have saved me so much time. It probably took me a decade to gain the understanding of college student development theory, higher ed law, finance, research methods, and shared governance — all of which are covered in a higher education degree.”
Crabtree is thankful for the connections he has gained from his career. He has strived to remain teachable throughout his time at Grace. If you have a teachable attitude, a desire to see growth in college students, and a passion for bringing people together, a role as a dean of students may be in your future!
Do you see yourself in one of these careers in higher education? Do you want to partner with students as their lives are transformed throughout their college years? The best way to start is with a degree in higher education! Learn about Grace College’s completely online Master’s in Higher Education degree today!