Happy August to you! After a break to focus on a few others projects and, in truth, take some time away from a dedicated writing grind, I’m returning to regular posting with some help from friends and colleagues.
As you may recall, I put out a call earlier this summer to find and tell the stories of defectors – people who have chosen to abandon the traditional model of campus-based student affairs and/or higher education – in favor of different types of work. This month, I am so excited to share their stories, and a few of my own.
Heading into my first full year as an independent higher education professional, I still get a lot of questions about this path: “So what do you do all day?” “How did you decide this was what you wanted to do?” “Would you ever go back?” And I’ll answer all of those in time, but thought it’d be better balanced by sharing how several others made that decision in their own right, for themselves.
I hope there’s a rising legitimacy in our ability to conceive of student support and advancement of the higher education profession on paths that don’t lead to a deanship, vice-presidency, or presidency. Professionals can make an impact on education – its impressionable students and dedicated professionals alike – in nontraditional ways. I hope that the posts shared here over the remainder of the month show you that in personal and critical ways.
With that said, I feel compelled to also offer a disclaimer: I’m not a proselytizer. The goal of this series is not to forcibly pull people over the fence to “the other side”, any more than my goal was to pull people into the traditional form of the work when I was doing that. I’m simply a fan of informed decision making- and there’s too little information about alternate paths out there. I hope this does a small part to change that.
Thank you to all my contributors – I literally couldn’t do this without you. I hope you’ll follow along, learn their stories, and that they resonate with you if you’ve ever considered making the leap yourself.
An Introduction to the Literature
Stephanie Tomlinson, The Steph Tom Show
Karlyn Borysenko, Zen Workplace
Kevin O’Connell, The Niche Movement
Wrap Up, Pt I: Creating Space for Defectors