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What Postsecondary Education Administrators Do

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and research at colleges and universities. Their job duties vary depending on the area of the college they manage, such as admissions, the office of the registrar, or student affairs.


Postsecondary education administrators who work in admissions decide whether potential students should be admitted to the school. They typically do the following:

Many admissions counselors are assigned a region of the country and travel to that region to speak to high school counselors and students.

In addition, they often work with the financial aid department, which helps students determine if they are able to afford tuition.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in the registrar’s office maintain student and course records. They typically do the following:

How registrars spend their time varies depending on the time of year. Before students register for classes, registrars must prepare schedules and course offerings. Then during registration and for the first few weeks of the semester, they help students sign up for, drop, and add courses. Toward the end of the semester, they plan graduation and ensure that students meet the requirements to graduate. Many of them need advanced computer skills to create and maintain databases.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in student affairs are responsible for a variety of nonacademic school functions, such as student athletics and activities. They typically do the following:

Postsecondary education administrators in student affairs can specialize in student activities, housing and residential life, or multicultural affairs. In student activities, education administrators plan events and advise student clubs and organizations. In housing and residential life, education administrators assign students rooms and roommates, ensure that residential facilities are well maintained, and train student staff, such as residential advisers. Education administrators who specialize in multicultural affairs plan events to celebrate different cultures and diverse backgrounds. Sometimes, they manage multicultural centers on campus.

Other postsecondary education administrators are provosts or academic deans. Provosts, also sometimes called chief academic officers, help college presidents develop academic policies, participate in making faculty appointments and tenure decisions, and manage budgets. Academic deans direct and coordinate the activities of the individual colleges or schools. For example, in a large university, there may be a dean who oversees the law school.

Education administrators have varying duties depending on the size of their college or university. Small schools often have smaller staffs who take on many different responsibilities, but larger schools may have different offices for each of these functions. For example, at a small college, the Office of Student Life may oversee student athletics and other activities, whereas a large university may have an Athletics Department.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition