Women in Higher Education

Women in Higher Education


The traditional college president is often though of as a man in an office who spends time looking at reports, hosting meetings with leaders on campus and attending events.

However, the landscape of higher education is not dominated by men like many stereotypes influence us to think. Women are a major part of Higher Education.

As noted in the infographic below, women are a key part of the industry of higher education. These women are leaders, influencers and are part of the student and professional experience.

Twenty-eight percent of college and university presidents are women. At the rate of their current growth, it will take 48 years to reach half of the presidencies in the united states. This is not reflective of the rate of students who are women in higher education.

According to Forbes.com, 57% of college students are women. The percentage of women is fairly consistent in public institutions. Specially, when compared state by state, the averages are different by specific state. One ratio of note is that 61% of college students in Rhode Islands are women.

Additionally, female faculty members make 19% less than their male counterparts. These statistics support the argument that there is a distinct disconnect between the number of women who are students in higher education and the women in leadership roles at those institutions.

Perceptions are reality. In a world where you see women as an cornerstone of campus, it can influence the student experience and perception of who is in those higher roles. It can change how students view an educational system based on traditional roles that administrators serve and the people in those roles.


Resources used:


What does a university president even do?

College and universities are big places. There are a lot of faculty and staff members who are all part of the complicated puzzle that is the institution. This is the beauty and the curse of the campus culture and community.


Now, there are different ranks, tiers and levels of professional staff members. At the top of the institution is the president. It’s a complicated, and often misunderstood role, but it is imperative to the institution’s success.


Interested in learning more about the role? Click on the educational Prezi I’ve included below.


Feel free to comment with additions to your perception of the role and any questions or ideas you may have.



To Move Forward, You Must Motivate

Student Perspectives of University Presidents Blog“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” –Henry Ford

It is easy to lose track of why one makes the choices that they do. It is difficult to think about the decisions of one and how it will affect many. In higher education, the decisions of the individual heavily influence the experience of many.

To make choices that benefit all and to work together to achieve a common goal can be considered success. In higher education, success isn’t just part of the conversation, it’s something one must consistently measure and provide an outcome for.

While often in higher education, we talk about the positives, there are many situations and instances where the negatives are painfully evident. To better understand student success and how it relates to the student experience and student perceptions, we must challenge ourselves to think of ways we can improve the experience for all, and not just a few.


Where do we start?

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a blog post about student success and how institutions must evaluate current practices to ensure that students are given the best experience and not limited in their opportunities.

The blog, written by Hilary Pennington, is titled “For Student Success, Stop Debating and Start Improving.” I believe that this title is encompassing of the student experience and how students can, and often do, have different perspectives based on their experiences. These experiences are integral to the success of each student.

Pennington is well-versed in the higher education field. She has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Pennington begins the post with a central theme, where can higher education help someone go. How can it determine success?

“Historically, higher education has fueled social and economic mobility in America. But today that contribution is at risk. Attainment gaps between high- and low-income students have doubled over the past 10 years.”


Why does it matter?

There is a real problem in our system. While the intention behind supporting students is to help them be successful, what we say is not always what we do. There are improvements to be made. The creation of these improvements will help us support student success and continue to influence student perceptions of university presidents.

“Only 9 percent of students from low-income households have earned any postsecondary credentials by the time they are 26, compared with more than 50 percent of students from higher-income households. We must do far more, and with far more speed, than we are doing now to close this gap.”


What have we learned?

It is not entirely about the experience of students and how institutions are supporting a diverse array of students and professionals. It is about the intention behind the action.

“We are learning that structured (and often limited) choice works best for most students. Honors programs in elite colleges and professional education in business, law, and medicine embody structured choice. If this works for the best-prepared students, we should provide it to those who need it most. For example, a recent study by the Community College Research Center shows that community-college students who enter a specific program of study within their first year are much more likely to earn credentials and/or transfer than are students who enter a concentration a year or two later.”

Students who feel like they matter to their campus and their program are more likely to be successful and engaged members of the community. All of the other factors discussed on this blog, and the terms that reinforce or influence student perceptions are connected. The experience of students is not a single experience or happening. It is a mixture of times, opportunities and chances to define an experience and understand a culture.

Institutions and students can move forward, as Pennington explains, but it is not a simple process.

“Change will require multiple points of view and many people working on different dimensions of the problem over a sustained period of time. We should put counterproductive debates behind us, and set about the urgent business of the revolutionary improvement that students and our country need.”


Where do we go from here?

To move forward and to change experiences and perspectives requires commitment and understanding. It is not a simple and stagnant experience. To move forward means that everyone, from the student to the president, must all believe that their time, talents and experience is important. No matter the circumstances, we cannot begin to change experiences if we do not work to improve.


What can you do?

Be a force for change. The student experience and student success starts with your story.

  • As a student
    • Ask questions to better understand practices
    • Make suggestions
    • Tell the story of your experience
    • Seek ways to inspire action in your field of influence
  • As a professional
    • Tell the story of students
    • Listen to what makes them successful
    • Understand how you can make a chance or inspire action in your immediate field of influence


Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out these resources.

Does Campus Community Influence Student Experience?

Home is Where Your Heart Is

Your neighborhood can define you. It can give you a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. Think about the different areas from your hometown. Perhaps there Campus Communitywere families that enjoyed having backyard parties and invited the whole block. Maybe the next street down no one talked. All of these areas influenced the community experience. How someone defined their time in the neighborhood: good, bad, fun, exciting, engaging, silly or boring. These terms are all from their experience and the people that were part of it.

The same holds true for campus experience. The people that surround you define your experience. For example, many students decide to live on or off campus. This helps them create their campus community. Students may have different neighborhoods that define their educational journey from where they spend their time outside of class.


The Comfy Campus Experience

Personally, I would say living on campus helped me create my campus community. I love living on campus and I credit it to being the most influential factor in why I did well, in school. It has been an amazing chance to spend time with my peers, be connected to resources and gives me a connection to my campus. I personally feel that my perceptions of university administrators are more positive because of the community of people that surrounded me while I lived on campus.

Now, I have never lived off campus, but I did research common benefits as well as speak with my friends who are self-proclaimed student leaders on campus who live off-campus. Now remember, these do not have to be your primary or only community, but is a really good example to consider.


A Family of Options

Here are some top listed reasons for living on campus:

Here are some top listed reasons for living off campus:

Here is a really great infographic that charts the benefits of living off-campus.


Coming Home to Conclusions

Now, you campus community may not center completely around where you spend your evenings and fall asleep. But, the people you interact with can influence your perception of others.

I like to think of the “student leader effect.” This is the idea that being aware and connected to your campus may influence how you view it. Perhaps students who have met the president of the university are much less likely to accept overarching comments by their peers. They may be more likely to challenge the comments or share another fact.


Creating Other Communities

Aside from where you live, there are other forms of campus communities:

  • Organizations you’re involved in
  • Places you work
  • Peers in your classes
  • Things you spend your time doing
  • Professional staff members you interact with

And, according to Lifehacker, the people around you influence your success. Lifehacker writes that “All that counts if you want to be successful in life is the people you surround yourself with.”

With this logic, it’s hard to think how a campus community and experience would not influence you. From being engaged and connected to your campus, to knowing the names of the administrators, your peers influence who you are.

Not convinced? Here’s some more information supporting the idea.


Community Engagement and Student Success

When you feel part of something, you want to participate. The same goes for your campus community. If the people around you are engaged and share educated opinions about a subject, you may follow their lead. It is not a question of if you do or do not live on campus, it is a question of are you connected to the right people, resources and offices to help you succeed as a student.

What do you think? Do you think the community a student lives in, creates, supports and engages in influences their experience and perceptions of university administrators? Does it have to be where they live or is it where their hear is? What created your campus community? Who did you spend your time with? Did it change your perspective of professionals on campus?


Interested in learning more about the law of average? Here’s the original video from Jim Rohn.

Student Engagement is Central to the Student Experience

Student Engagement

Students involved on Kent State’s campus attend a regional conference for residence hall leaders.

Visualizing the experience.

Think about it the worst class you have ever taken at your college or university. You are sitting there, wondering why you even showed up to begin with. You cannot decide if you will ever need the information being shared by your professor, and you’d argue that you probably will not ever need it. Yet, you went to class today.

Now, think about your favorite class. You arrive early. You pay attention. You take copious notes. You laugh at the professors jokes and do not wait to do the homework. Have you ever thought of why?

Now think about a student group you may have been or are involved in. Did you like the meetings? Did you show up on time? Did you take on a leadership position? Or did you stop coming? That is also a form of engagement on campus.

When it comes to our experiences in higher education, engagement is central to that success. Student engagement is another one of those nebulous terms that we seek to understand, yet only truly do when we experience it. It is more than understanding the material. It is a knowledge that you feel like you belong on your campus and you are part of the experience.

Keeping our attention.

Things that keep our attention are:

  • Interesting
  • Unique
  • Funny
  • Thought-provoking
  • Challenging
  • Beneficial
  • Exciting
  • Valuable

Things that do not keep our attention are:

  • Boring
  • Not valuable
  • Predictable
  • Common
  • Sleep-provoking

Why is it that some classes keep our attention? Why is it that some organizations on campus are more meaningful to us than others? Why does it all matter?

Understanding why.

When you think of what you remember most about your college experience, it is probably not the homework assignments. Unless there is one you are proud of our embarrassed by. Your fondest memories are the experiences you have had and the people you met. Meeting people and having experiences is part  of student engagement.

When we define engagement in relation to students, it is more than paying attention in class. It is getting to your meetings for organizations that fuel your passions. It is building your professional network to help you understand why you started to do what you wanted to do. It is the night you decided that pizza and Walmart in the early morning was much more important than sleep. These things keep you coming back as a student. They help you remain a focused and engaged alumni.

Coming full-circle.

Students who are more engaged and aware on their campus are more likely to understand the inner workings and better recognize the different administrators. Those who have had positive experiences where they have felt engaged and like their experiences matter make better alumni, have better perspectives and may be potential third-party recruiters.

Personally, I would not have had as great of an experience if I had not felt engaged. It gave me a reason to keep doing what I was doing. Without that reason, my experience may not have been positive. I may not have gotten involved and began to meet the administrators who made decisions that impact me on my campus. Now, I am not advocating that every student gets involved and that will lead to immediate success, but I am saying that the students who are aware of their campus, feel like they matter, enjoy their classes and have a connection to the campus make better advocates for having a perception of their university president, positive or negative, and educate others to do the same.


5 Ways to Explain Student Affairs

Student Affairs is a term thrown around on campuses as often as a collegiate football. But, what really does the term mean? Is it something you can grasp onto and have a set definition for? Or is that just an idyllic dream?

When talking to students about their perspectives of university administrators and professionals, it is important to think about the other pieces of the higher education puzzle. Students who are engaged, involved and aware of their campus surroundings often have a very different perspective of university presidents than those who do not. A student who is involved understands the role of the president and how that pertains to them. A student who may not be as involved could be unaware of the resources provided to them. Professionals who work with students and often are able to help give students opportunities to be involved work in Student Affairs. Yet, students may not be aware that this is a career path and a resource for them on campus.

1. Student Affairs is a profession

There are people who choose to go into student affairs as their job. These professionals typically have master’s degrees. They have a wealth of experiences and were most likely very involved when they went to college. There are academic programs dedicated to student affairs. It is not just some term that is mentioned offhandedly with no real purpose. People dedicate their lives to student affairs. These professionals can serve in numerous roles on-campus and work with students in a variety of different ways.

Here are some common areas of student affairs (title depends on campus):

  • Dining Departments
  • Residence Services Departments
  • Academic Advising Offices
  • Student Involvement Offices
  • Student Conduct Offices
  • Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Departments
  • Academic Success Offices
  • Cultural Offices
  • GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) Offices
  • Orientation Departments
  • And many other departments and offices

2. Student Affairs does not describe professors

While professors may seek to support students as they complete their journey at college, professors are not specifically student affairs professionals. While professors, Provosts and academic departments handle the intellectual side of a student’s education, student affairs professionals seek to support each student’s personal growth, development and experience on campus. They two sides are not independent of each other, and there is overlap.

Think of the academic side and the student affairs side as two different colors that are merging to make a new color. Red can be the academic side and blue can be the student affairs side. Both colors merge to create the color purple, which can reflect the student experience.

The student experience is related to how students view their institution as alumni and how they perceive the administrators. If a student had the chance to meet a high-level professional at the university they may have a different view of their role and how it relates to the student. This may be different for a student who never had the chance to meet with an administrator and any option a student has is from secondary sources, like the campus newspaper.

3. Student Affairs professionals are here to help students

Student affairs professionals make it their job to be a resource and support system for students. These people are here to answer questions. They want to help students succeed and they work to provide resources, like financial aid planning guides, to give students tools for success.

Student affairs professionals may go into programs to train with a background in administration or counseling. There are other classifications, but these are the most common. Here are two examples of different program descriptions from the University of Buffalo and Northwestern University.

There are a lot of opportunity for students interest in working in higher education to go into student affairs. There are also a lot of resources that explain the programs for students who are not sure about where they fit into the puzzle.

4. Student Affairs is as part of the campus culture

Much like sports can influence a campus identity, the quality of the student affairs professionals and the resources provided to students can positively, negatively and neutrally impact a campus culture. The puzzle of a successful higher education experience depends on all the different parts of the campus identity, such as understanding student differences, challenges, experiences and how to support their growth and success.

5. Student Affairs is part of Higher Education

There is no sign by an office door that reads “Student Affairs Only.” Instead, everything is intertwined. Academic professionals and student affairs professionals work collaboratively to support student success. Student perspectives and experiences are influenced by all the professionals they encounter on campus and that makes the student experience.

Student affairs is not something that is a simple term we can briefly describe. There are many factors that influence how someone defines student affairs. In essence, professionals in student affairs deal with the non-classroom side of the student experience, yet work with the academic side to serve students. What do you think? What role do you think student experience plays in student perceptions of university presidents and administrators?

Some additional resources:

Here is a video about different careers in Higher Education from the University of Chicago.

What is Higher Education?

Often in life, we hear a term and barely understand what it means. We know it is important in some capacity, but we do not understand why. Higher Education is one of those terms. It’s a term that is used daily on a college campus and often around students looking at going to college.

But what is Higher Education? Well, in this blog, I will seek to define and interpret terms for you to better understand. I am by no means an expert, but I am someone who is immersed in the culture of Higher Education and loving every second of it! Higher Education is the overarching term all of these terms fit into. I am currently working on my Senior Honors Thesis at Kent State University. Part of my research centers around student perspectives of university administration. As I continue to dive into the world of student engagement, perspectives and perceptions on a college campus, I thought I’d begin to share some of the terms we so commonly use and provide a perspective and definition. If you’re interested in hearing about additional research in higher education that inspired my topic, Dr. Anne Marie Klotz has a phenomenal video on her research on female university presidents.



So, what does the term mean? 

Higher Education is an umbrella term that includes different components of life and experience on a college campus. From the classroom to the orientation program, Higher Education is a blanket term for a big and confusing concept. This concept is something that people who are part of the organization feel is simple and easy to understand. While those who are not familiar, often wonder what is going on.

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with anything? Well, it is important to understand some of the different areas of higher education, as a student or professional. Higher Education is a term that covers all elements of continuing past high school in your academic career. There is a differences between a college and a university, but Higher Education is a term that both fall under. For example, a college only offers a majority of Bachelor Degrees. A University offers students degrees that are Bachelor Degrees, Master’s Degrees and Doctoral Degrees. There are other classifications of institutions of higher education, which basically means places where people go to school past high school. The Chronicle of Higher Education, is a publication that offers resources and information about different Higher Education institutions. Or, if you’re more interested in the scholarly research, the Journal of Higher Education is also full of information.


Am I Part of Higher Education?

It depends, are you in school? Do you take classes past high school? Are you at an accredited institution? If the answer to any of these is yes, then you are part of Higher Ed. And even if the answer is not, that is okay. There is more to Higher Education than going to class. There are professionals who work in Higher Education, in all different kinds of roles. These roles can range from overseeing conduct protocols for the university to working in the dining department. While it may not be important for you to understand the different roles and how they fit into the puzzle of an institution of Higher Education, it is important to note that the work others are doing is vital to the success of a school. It is more than the classes and the people you see walking across campus. And, as the blog continues, we will talk about the different parts of higher education, the hierarchy and the roles of professionals.

It is very common in Higher Ed, as it is also called, to use acronyms and expressions without defining them. People may rattle them off and you are left sitting there confused. While, stay confused no longer! On this blog, my goal is to make the giant world of Higher Education simple and easy to understand. Let me know if you have feedback or insight below in the comments. I appreciate it!



  • Higher Education is an optional post-high school experience where there are different levels of formal learning
  • Higher Education is more than going to class
  • Higher Education is an encompassing term that has many other terms related to it
  • An institution of Higher Education is where all the classes and activities take place. Such as a college campus.
  • If you’re voluntarily earning a degree or certification from an accredited institution like a university, you’re involved with Higher Education.