A dean is a person who holds substantial authority over a particular academic unit such as college and university (although they can also be found in middle and high schools). The dean of students responds to the students’ needs, as well as the programs for campus life such as admissions, financial aid, housing and social problems; they also have to lead their fellow faculty members and inspire the college on a whole.

To become a dean, though, it can take a lot of studying, experience and requirements. Usually, you will start out in a lower administration position and slowly work your way up to higher positions. Here’s how to become a dean of a college.

Get the right education

To become a teacher, you need a Bachelor’s degree before engaging in student teaching where you gain classroom experience, and eventually become a certified teacher. However, to become a dean, you typically need a Master’s or Doctorate degree in higher education.

Prospective deans typically begin their careers as high school teachers before transitioning to be a professor at college; they will then advance from there. While they are teaching, it is highly recommended that aspiring deans continue their studies with courses in higher education, such as education administration, a higher education leadership Master’s, school law and politics in education.

Another route to becoming a dean includes working as a member of administrative staff before progressing to higher-tier positions. Regardless of their entry into becoming a dean, throughout their career they will have to undergo additional training.

Be socially active

You need to participate in as many activities as possible throughout your college career and even college education. If you’ve always aspired to become a dean, then apply yourself as a student and become student body president, join a sorority or fraternity or run your own society. You could even intern or work for your college.

Once you’re a professor, you need to continue these social habits. Engage with your faculty members and network with each and every one of them; demonstrate to your students that you care and are passionate about their education. By showing that you are interested in student activities, you’re proving that you have everyone’s best interests at heart.

Apply to many colleges

Like everyone, there will be your dream choice of college. Maybe it’s your own college, where being an alumnus could greatly work in your favour; or, perhaps it’s an Ivy League college you’ve always wanted to set foot in. Either way, you need to realize that the competition will be fierce (as it is with any job) so apply to as many colleges as possible. Like every job, you need to work from the bottom up.

Expect challenges

Becoming a dean is no easy feat. You have to start small and work your way up. If you’re lucky enough to know that you want to be a dean as early as high school, then you should plan your career path from there; if you’re late to the game then you should acquire as many skills possible and network with college friends and your old professors. It may be a long path to becoming a dean of a college, however, it can be a rewarding career. You will make a difference to your students’ lives, and for the better.