Editor’s note: NACAC member Kasey Urquídez found herself in a unique position this fall — heading up the admission office at the same university where her daughter was embarking on her freshman year. The experience offered Urquídez an up-close-and-personal look at what comes after admission and how a campus community can help make (or break) promises made during the recruitment cycle.
As I reflect on my daughter’s first year of college, I am grateful for the little things. As vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions at the University of Arizona (UA), it may seem silly for me to write about my own child’s first year at UA, but I feel compelled to share her experience. Why? Her freshman year ultimately offered her everything a parent could want for their child. And as an admission professional, her experiences provided the opportunity to see first-hand the way my university was able to make good on promises made in the recruiting cycle—something all enrollment leaders want.
Her year started off shaky. She sprained her ankle the weekend before classes began. Then, on her first day, a personality and leadership survey was disseminated in one of her small classes. She found she was unlike everyone and quickly felt like an outcast. This, compounded with struggling on crutches, made her wonder if she made the right choices.
She persisted, but throughout those early weeks, she still had not found her fit in many of her classes. I expected that. Change is hard and I knew there would be tears at different times.
Mid-semester one of her instructors contacted her to meet. My daughter was worried. I let her know she was probably meeting with all students. She said, “No, just me.” Of course, that worried me, too! But after their meeting, I received a text that read, “Mom, I just had the best meeting of my life!” The support she received from that instructor is what UA is all about. Her instructor showed that she cared, talked to her about her passions and interests, and helped her strategize about other educational areas she might want to pursue. Without this outreach, I am confident my daughter would have continued to struggle.
My daughter’s experience changed that day. She found a new major and feels confident in her choice. She would not have felt this way without the guidance she received. Her instructor continued to follow up by emailing her at the end of her first semester and then again at the start of the spring semester to check in. It’s the little things. They make such a difference.
My daughter has experienced tremendous educational growth this year — thanks in a large part to the faculty, staff, and others she’s encountered. Listening to her describe her classes was enlightening. I was thrilled to see her enjoyment in expanding her understanding of culture and its relevancy to the world we live in. It was also exciting to see her love of writing develop. Her instructors’ expectations and encouragement pushed my daughter to reach her full potential. The consistent check-ins by faculty and staff made a huge difference in her first year. My heart is grateful knowing her college experience, thanks to the care of the community around her, is turning out to be exactly what we in the admission office share with prospective students and families.
So as the academic year comes to a close, I want to say thank you to the counselors, instructors, staff, and faculty who impact students’ lives each and every day. Never doubt that a single interaction can make all the difference. As our family has learned first-hand, it’s the little things.