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School's Cool
10 Things That'll Make Anyone Who Works in Education Say: 'Yeah, Same'
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Kayla Heisler
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There's more to working in education than meets the eye. People in the industry do things everyday that never get mentioned at PTA meetings or orientations. And when you work with students... well, everyday is an adventure.

If you work in education – whether you write curriculum, guide high school students through college applications, or give lectures – you know there are aspects of the industry people don't really get unless they do it themselves. Here are 10 things everyone in education can relate to, straight from female educators and administrators.

1. You're always explaining that education is a business.

“Most people who don’t work in education don’t realize how much it functions as a business, with each college or university acting as a brand. As such, decisions at schools are often made by whether they’re “on- or off-brand.” It makes perfect sense for business, but it’s often surprising for those who are on the outside looking in.”

-Renée A. Walker, Former higher education administrator

2. You hate testing more than any parent or student ever could.

“Education in the United States has changed dramatically since the advent of the belief that everything must be measured, qualified and quantified. It is a good idea in theory, but it is really not the way humans learn or acquire knowledge.”

-Jennifer Degenhardt, Former Spanish Teacher

3. You roll your eyes everytime someone asks why that student union or new cafeteria was necessary.

“People frequently complain about how expensive college is these days - and it definitely is! Just know that virtually no one is getting rich who works in education. Why is it so expensive then? Students and parents want a quality experience... Those fancy rec centers and student unions may not be necessary, but if a student and parent have to decide between a school with those amenities and one that doesn't have them, they're more likely to choose the school that has them.”

-Anne Brackett, Chief Engagement Officer

4. You have a mental breakdown about grants at least once a week.

“One of down sides of education might be the anxiety of having your salary based on how long research grants last. For instance, once my salary was fully funded by grants.”

-​Carol Gee, Former adjunct faculty member and administrator

5. You basically never know when to schedule that vacation you've been wanting.

“If you work as an associate faculty member, it is challenging to get time off for vacation. You cannot just take a day, a few days, a week, or two weeks off. You have to take an entire semester. That can mean from 5 weeks off to 3-4 months off without pay. It's similarly difficult for lower education teachers whose students depend on them everyday.”

-Dr. Diane Hamilton, Former MBA Program Chair

6. And you've given up every dream of being rich.

“If your sole motivating factor for your career is to make money, education is the wrong field for you. Educators find themselves in their career because they want to make a difference and have an impact on the lives of others. Often our greatest reward is a simple thank you note from a student.”

-Andrew Selepak, Telecommunications professor

7. But you also know the perks of working in education are uniquely sweet.

“Being in a place where learning and research took place was exhilarating. So was the opportunity to enjoy events at a low cost, like plays, lectures and talks by well-known scholars and entertainers.”

-​Carol Gee, Former adjunct faculty member and administrator

8. You've explained to a million crying parents that learning takes time.

“Kids' minds are sponges. Their knowledge might not manifest immediately. It might come out of nowhere few months down the road.”

-Diana Stelin, Plein-Air Art Academy owner

9. And you realize no educators have it easy, even those who are typically the butt of jokes, like online instructors or substitutes.  

​"​No education job is easy. When I worked full-time jobs in online education, there were people working all around the country. I ended up working far more than eight-hour days to talk to people based on their time zone.”

-Dr. Diane Hamilton, Former MBA Program Chair

10. Because you've seen everyone hit the ground running, year after year.

“We have no free time in August. Back to school is stressful for parents, but if you work in education you're coming in early, staying late, and taking work home to prepare for the new school year. Most schools won't approve any vacation time in August for that reason. So if you have friends who work in education who seem like they've ghosted you for the month, please don't take it personally.”

-Anne Brackett, Chief Engagement Officer

Educators, we salute you. And don't worry: we won't buy you another candle for Christmas this year.

--

Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.

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