The 3 most frustrating—but wonderful—moments of working in higher ed

Every higher ed administrator is familiar with the frustrations of navigating a project to completion, Donna Lehmann writes for Inside Higher Ed.

As leaders guide a project through endless red tape and stakeholder buy-in, it can be easy to feel discouraged by tight deadlines and mounting pressure, she adds.

Based on her own experience as the assistant vice president of marketing at Fordham University, Lehmann explains how even these frustrating higher ed moments have their silver linings.

1: Opinionated stakeholders

Many of a university's special projects affect prospective students, donors, and other departments, Lehmann writes. Far-reaching initiatives can spawn many opinioned stakeholders.

Silver lining: While it can feel frustrating to corral multiple stakeholders around a shared decision, the process reflects higher ed's respect for different perspectives, Lehmann argues. She suggests this leads to a culture of engaged and passionate people who strive for excellence.

Also see: How to win buy-in from university stakeholders

2: Low bandwidth

Higher ed administrators spend their days pivoting between clients and projects multiple times a day and most face a seemingly never-ending to-do list, Lehmann writes.

Silver lining: While this line of work is demanding, it also offers a more creative and strategic professional life, she notes. "I embrace the chaos," Lehmann shares, noting that jobs in higher ed are "never boring."

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3: High stakes 

Few administrators have the financial luxury of re-running a campaign or other project that didn't hit its target, which can make each project feel high-stakes, she notes.

Silver lining: When tight deadlines and mounting pressures become overwhelming, Lehmann encourages her fellows to remember that the stakes are so high because the mission of your institution is so important to the broader community—and you and your colleagues' contributions to that mission are so valuable (Lehmann, Inside Higher Ed, 11/8).

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