Ideas, musings and inspirations.

As consultants to higher education institutions, we often begin new engagements by going to campus to try to understand the bigger picture at the college of university. We want to see both the forest and the trees, and then we base all of our work is based on that deep understanding.

I know my friends and neighbors who work for colleges and universities do the same thing. We all want to support the mission of the institutions we’re associated with, whether we approach our work from the standpoint of admissions, advancement, academics, facilities… the list goes on.

Having said that, it’s easy to get caught up in the more specific tasks at hand. What should this information architecture look like? How many donor calls do I make this week? How many folders have do I have left to read? We all have specific tasks that we’re going to be held accountable for, and they’re usually a lot more specific than “support the mission of the institution.” On a typically Thursday morning, we’re all just thinking about what we need to do that day.

Yesterday’s keynote speaker at the CASE 8 Conference, Nate Miles, gave us a powerful reminder of what we’re really working for: a student. Not the student body, or the prospect pool for the year, or the son or daughter of a potential donor, but a single student, whose life can be changed through the education that the right institution provides. And who — in turn — can change the world.

Mr. Miles called on a broad range of sources, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Disney’s Lion King, and used his personal history to remind us all that an education is a powerful tool, and that working in and with education, we have the power to change lives.

I made a deliberate decision to join a digital marketing agency that serves colleges and universities (among others) because education is a cause that I understand and that I’m passionate about. Whether it’s with higher education marketing or SEO services or social media strategy, our aim is the same as that of our clients: to find a way to connect right fit students to the institutions that will change their lives.

Many of the people I encounter in education feel the same way. It’s a good job and an engaging environment to work in, but it’s something more than that. It’s a cause. A mission. After Mr. Miles’s keynote yesterday, I’m inspired all over again. I think most of the audience here at CASE 8 felt the same way. I look forward to seeing where that energy takes us.

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