BlackCrush review

Asking us to care about students is fair-it’s why we chose the careers we did

Asking us to care about students is fair-it’s why we chose the careers we did

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We’ve entered a cycle that, at its core, was never intended to be a negative but has nevertheless led to professionals leaving higher education in droves. As we have continued to say yes to increasing demands, however, those increased levels of engagement have become the expectation for new professionals entering the field. To prove themselves, they now have to perform above already-inflated baselines for success. The end result over time: unrealistically high expectations for individual performance, coupled with institutional promises to maintain and expand student offerings without the human capital to do so.

With more and happier people to serve them, students will be better supported and will have models for setting boundaries in their own professional lives

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Personal boundaries are such a taboo topic in higher education because they force professionals at all levels to acknowledge the aspects of the field that just aren’t sustainable. Fixing those aspects will require work-hard, uncomfortable, unsettling work-which we are often more inclined to avoid than embrace. It’s the question of the enemy we know versus the enemy we don’t. We already know we can survive under the current conditions, and it’s more comfortable to accept that known than risk the difficulty of making a change.

But let’s think about what will happen if we don’t put in that extra hard work. Already, many professionals who entered our field excited, energetic and wanting to impact students’ lives have fled for greener pastures that allow them to use their talents without facing never-ending burnout. With a slower stream of new professionals refreshing the employee pool, the rest of us are forced to take on higher demands when our demands were already over capacity. Eventually, this kind of burnout can create disillusionment in even the most dedicated professionals. When we have no life beyond work, are we really living?

We must keep reminding ourselves in this conversation that there is no villain. This is not a discussion of professionals versus institutions or institutional leadership. We have created this system together, both by expecting too much of ourselves and expecting too much of our workers. And we will need to fix it together.

But a workforce that is able to get a full night’s sleep, spend quality time with family and loved ones, and eat three square meals a day will be in a better position to give students what they need in the hours reserved for that work

A feeling has developed that we cannot create boundaries for ourselves because they might limit our ability to serve students. In the short term, that’s true- what it means to serve students may look a bit different. Such a healthier workforce will attract new professionals who want to be part of a field that allows them to follow their passions while also enjoying life outside the walls of their institution.

This is where we are. It’s hard to talk about because it requires us to shake up the status quo. Especially during the last few years of the pandemic, both faculty members and administrators have been realizing how much life they’re missing because of the extra demands of their work, and they’re choosing to leave rather than continue to miss that living. No matter our connection to the field of higher education-longtime supervisor, new professional or family member or friend to a higher education professional-we all can all take steps to start the process of changing the unrealistic expectations that have come to define the field.

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