College Administrators


Exploring this Job

To learn something about what the job of administrator entails, talk to your high school principal and superintendent. Also, interview administrators at colleges and universities. Many of their office phone numbers are listed in college directories. The e-mail addresses of the administrators of many different departments, from deans to registrars, are often published on college Web sites. You should also discuss the career with the college recruiters who visit your high school. Also, familiarize yourself with all the various aspects of running a college and university by looking at college student handbooks and course catalogs. Most handbooks list all the offices and administrators and how they assist students and faculty.

Check out blogs and podcasts (https://www.aacrao.org/resources/newsletters-blogs) offered by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, a nonprofit professional organization of higher education professionals, to learn more about college admissions and enrollment management topics. 

Read Careers In Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 2017) to learn more about the field. 

The Job

A college administrator's work is demanding and diverse. An administrator is responsible for counseling services, admissions, alumni affairs, financial aid, academics, and business. The following are some of the different types of college administrators, but keep in mind that this is only a partial list. It takes many administrators in many different departments to run a college.

Many college and university administrators are known as deans. Deans are the administrative heads of specific divisions or groups within the university, and oversee the activities and policies of that division. One type of dean is an academic dean. Academic deans are concerned with such issues as the requirements for a major, the courses offered, and the faculty hired within a specific academic department or division. The field of academic dean includes titles as dean of the college of humanities, dean of social and behavioral sciences, and dean of the graduate school, just to name a few. The dean of students is responsible for the student-affairs program, often including such areas as student housing, organizations, clubs, and activities.

Registrars prepare class schedules and final exam schedules. They maintain computer records of student data, such as grades and degree requirements. They prepare school catalogs and student handbooks. Associate registrars assist in running the school registrar's office.

Recruiters visit high school campuses and college fairs to provide information about their school and to interest students in applying for admission. They develop relationships with high school administrators and arrange to meet with counselors, students, and parents.

Financial aid administrators direct the scholarship, grant, and loan programs that provide student financial assistance for the costs of tuition, fees, books, and other living expenses. The administrator keeps students informed of the financial assistance available and helps answer student and parent questions and concerns. At smaller colleges, a single person such as the financial aid officer, might do this work. At larger colleges and universities, the staff might be bigger, and the financial aid officer will head a department and direct the activities of financial aid counselors, who handle most of the personal contact with students.

Other college administrators include college admissions counselors, who review records, interview prospective students, and process applications for admission. Alumni directors oversee the alumni associations of colleges and universities. An alumni director maintains relationships with the graduates of the college primarily for fund-raising purposes.

Such jobs as university president, vice president, and provost are among the highest ranking college and university administrative positions. Generally the president and vice president act as high-level managers, overseeing the rest of a college's administration. They handle business concerns, press relations, community involvement, and public relations, and they listen to faculty and administration concerns, often casting the final vote on issues such as compensation, advancement, and tenure. At most schools, the provost is in charge of the many collegiate deans. Working through the authority of the deans, the provost manages the college faculty. The provost also oversees budgets, the academic schedule, event planning, and participates in faculty hiring and promotion decisions.