Do you have trouble sleeping every now and then? If you’re in a leadership position in higher education and can honestly answer that question with a “no,” please call us immediately; we’d like to bottle your secret to a good night’s rest.
For most of us who serve in public or private higher education, we’ve had our share of restless—and sometimes downright sleepless—nights.
Recently, we were asked to craft a presentation for a group of enrollment and marketing professionals at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) Chief Enrollment Officers Conference in San Diego. At first, we thought we could use our collective 70 years in the business to assemble a great motivational presentation for CCCU. Instead, we decided to take a different approach and solicit feedback. We asked a representative group of enrollment and marketing officers one simple (but slightly loaded) question: What keeps you up at night?
Based on our own experience, we knew that many folks in the audience had more than their share of sleepless nights. Still, we wondered if the cause of the insomnia had changed. Were there new worries? New challenges that remain unmet? New opportunities that demand fresh and innovative thinking?
To get answers, we reached out to 20 enrollment and marketing professionals from around the country and asked them to film a brief personal video on the topic. About 15 of our colleagues took us up on the offer and submitted clips—a dreamy (pun intended) response rate, if we do say so ourselves. And the videos we received ran the gamut: Some respondents discussed worries that were specific to them at the moment; others expressed broader concerns about the future of higher education in American society. But in the end, most respondents’ anxiety centered on three common themes:
The Pace of Technology: The enormous challenge that increasingly sophisticated technology has brought to enrollment offices across the country, coupled with the seemingly impossible task of doing more and more just to bring in a class.
Professional Demands versus Compensation: A concern for enrollment and marketing team members, as they face accelerating professional expectations (often without the commensurate salary levels that nurture long-term, highly experienced staff).
The Future of Higher Education: A profound unease about the destiny of higher education and the sustainability of the current model in a world where increasing tuition costs, heightened competition, shrinking net revenue, and growing student financial needs are the norm.
While none of these pressures came as a shock, we were surprised by the real sense of optimism and the unwavering dedication expressed by every respondent. A desire to face challenges head-on and find solutions was a component of each response, as was a passion for the work and a wry sense of humor.
So, as we prepared for our presentation, reviewed our collection of videos, and listened to the concerns voiced by our colleagues, we were inspired by an almost tangible sense of hope. Sure, everyone has valid reasons to be apprehensive about higher education right now, but it seems today’s enrollment and marketing professionals are—in spite of a few sleepless nights—up to the challenges that lie ahead.
Can’t sleep? Interested in learning more? Check out a sampling of the video responses we received and share your thoughts with our readers. What keeps you up at night?
Or, join the conversation and share your own video on Twitter! #sleeplessinacademia
Linda Hoffman, Director of Admissions, Malone College
Brad Pochard, Associate Vice President for Enrollment, Dean of Admissions, Furman University
Ron’s higher education experience spans nearly 30 years of across administration, leadership, and college-level teaching. Prior to Stamats, Ron was vice president for professional development and research at The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU). Ron has served as a consultant in the areas of strategic planning, mission clarification, academic assessment, and professional development and research.
With more than 38 years of public relations and higher education experience, Greg has served both private and public higher education at several universities. He most recently served as vice president for university marketing at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.