Next month Bret Hyder (’04) will return to Bethel as the new director of admissions for the College of Arts and Sciences. Bret was a History/Social Studies Education major at Bethel and taught high school social studies for several years before entering college admissions. Before coming to Bethel he filled a similar position at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, MN. Both to help spread the news of this exciting announcement and to provide another example of what you can do with a History major, we’re thrilled that Bret took the time to answer a few questions for us via e-mail.
How did you get into college admissions after having spent several years teaching social studies?
God works in creative ways, and my path to where I’m at is no different. I really enjoyed my time teaching (and still have my license), but for a time in my life I felt a calling towards full-time coaching. Christian higher education has been near and dear to me since my experience at Bethel, so finding a coaching position at a Christian college seemed to make a lot of sense. I took a job in admissions because I needed income to offset my coaching “hobby.”
After years of coaching and working in Admissions, I found that I really enjoyed achieving and winning at goals in Admissions just as much as on the field, plus I loved developing and leading a group of people towards a common goal. I realized how much I enjoy leadership in general and how much teaching and coaching actually goes into this job as an administrator. God clearly used my choices in shaping me into who I am, however, I still read history books like crazy.
Do you find that your own undergraduate studies in history and education prepared you well for a job in college admissions?
There is no ONE degree that prepares someone for an admissions job; rather, all degrees do and all are needed in order to recruit the variety of students we interface with effectively. What Bethel did —specifically my coursework in history and education — was teach me how to think and process critically. Effective leaders and workers in any occupation are ones who can collaborate with others and think strategically. And — because God uses all experiences — I believe that my undergraduate studies prepared me well to teach and coach, which prepared me for the admissions experience, which has prepared me for leadership.
What excites you most about your new position at Bethel?
Recruiting for my alma mater — it excites me as much as it frightens me to death! I’m really excited for the challenge and for the opportunity to serve Bethel well by implementing strategies to enroll students. The Enrollment Division is blessed to have a great group of people working tirelessly to this end, and I am excited to create vision and urgency within my department. I believe so deeply in what Bethel is doing and will continue to do in the lives of its graduates. The Bethel experience is life-changing. Knowledge can be disseminated in a variety of different and effective ways, but synthesizing that knowledge with an experience rooted in Christ… that’s impressive, and I want every student in the world to know about it.
I’m also very excited to work at a school that is highly regarded in the marketplace, values excellence, but most of all, looks to Christ when decisions are made. Plus, a lot has changed on campus since I was a student, and I look forward to enjoying all Bethel has to offer, which includes lunch with the History Department.
We often hear that history and the other humanities are in a moment of “crisis,” in part because prospective students and their parents are unsure that there’s much value in paying for an expensive college education centered on a field that doesn’t seem directly connected to a job or career. If you were meeting with a high school student who loved history but wasn’t sure it was worth paying college tuition to study it, what would you advise her?
Get a history degree. Employers hire based on expertise and passion. If a student is passionate about history, major in it. When you love what you do and enjoy what you are studying, you create passion, and that passion is recognizable to peers and employers. One of two things will happen to a person who majors in history: 1) you will find a job where you can use your degree everyday, or 2) you will find a job that hired you because you are passionate about work, enjoy knowledge and context, and because you are — by virtue of your history degree — capable of critical thought and dialogue with others. Employees that add to the discussion are always worth taking a risk on, even against a person with potentially more experience who lacks that ability. History degrees can get you jobs or get you into graduate school — but at the end of the day, employers aren’t hiring the degree, they’re hiring a person they will invest a lot of money into, from whom they are expecting a lot (in terms of value to an organization).
To that end, the perceived crisis of the humanities and history is due in large part to the development of professional degree programs. My opinion is that, while we need teachers and nurses and engineers, these professional degrees are not the future of higher education, rather a supplement. Families who feel the pressure to find a degree directly connected to a job field are doing themselves a disservice. You can never be sure that the jobs schools are preparing students for today will even be viable (or that the student will still be interested) when they graduate. For the first time, the generation of Millennials are not staying at jobs in the same sector like their parents have modeled. If this trend is to continue, the humanities will always have a place in the market because society will always value holistic thinkers.
Plus, the more Bethel history graduates there are working in the marketplace, the more connections rising seniors will have on the job outlook. 🙂
Please join us in welcoming Bret and his family back to Bethel!