I had a first in my college counseling career last week when I went on an organized multi-college tour. When you’re the only person in your office—as I was for so long—getting away to see colleges is, at best, a one-day commitment, so the idea of taking an entire week away from the office to see nine college campuses was new to me. It also left me wondering if I could follow the advice I offer my students—to write down your impressions the minute the tour is over, so you don’t confuse the qualities of one campus with the features of another.
It turns out I didn’t have too much to worry about in that department. This tour has been going on for ages and those in charge leave no detail to chance. We were greeted with an itinerary that would have made any logistics expert shed a tear of joy, including a booklet that included a summary of the essential statistics and vital qualities of each school. I was free to add my own notes in the ample notes section in the back, but even if I didn’t, there was no way I was going home with nine schools jumbled in my head.
Overall, the experience taught or reminded me of three things about this profession, all lessons that were timely.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Admitted in July 2017. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series
After 14 years working in the admission office for my alma mater, I had it good. I coordinated the campus visit team, supervised tour guides, worked with transfer students, and held many “other duties as assigned.” In short, I knew what I was doing.
Then two years ago, I was offered an exciting new role that turned my career on its head: I became Gettysburg College’s first West Coast regional counselor.
In the past 24 months I have learned about the challenges of a three-hour time difference, work-life balance, and the importance of communication with the office. I’ve also reflected on how counselors — and campus-based leaders — can work together to make the most out of regional positions.
Here are my tips for counselors and admission leaders who are considering making the jump.
You’ve worked so hard to schedule, prepare, and nudge your high school senior to apply to college on time. You shared that small thrill when they hit “submit” with time to spare, and you thought you were all set.
Until they got the e-mail.
“Our records indicate your application is incomplete. Unless we receive a copy of your high school transcript in the next five days, we will be unable to process your application.”
At this point, you’ve decided this is personal, so even though it’s 7 at night, you pick up the phone and leave The Mother of All Voice Mails for your school counselor.
How do colleges build a freshman class? NACAC’s annual State of College Admission report — released on Thursday — offers students, parents, and others a peek at the various factors weighed when reviewing applications.
Now in its 15th year, the report continues to emphasize the importance of academic performance in the admission process. Altogether, colleges on average accept nearly two-thirds of first-time freshmen, with students’ grades and the academic rigor of their course loads weighing more heavily in decisions to admit than standardized test scores, high school class rank, or demonstrated interest in attending.
But other factors also play a role. For example, 22 percent of colleges rated the high school a student attended as at least moderately important in admission decisions for first-time freshmen. And roughly half of all colleges attributed some level of influence to alumni relations when accessing the applications of such students.
The intensity of the current political climate has led to increased activism among students at more than half (52 percent) of all secondary schools across the US, according to survey data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
The finding is one of several included in a new NACAC research brief that explores the effects of today’s political rhetoric on college-bound students and examines how the political climate is affecting the college admission process. The association surveyed school counselors and college admission officers on the subject earlier this year.
Although levels of activism varied across schools, with 27 percent of respondents reporting that the political environment had no effect on the students they served, a full 52 percent of school counselors reported increased political engagement.
In the words of one respondent: “They’re woke and they’re angry! And they’re registered to vote!”
This post was originally published on Admitted in October 2017. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.
I miss you.
On Halloween in Denver, there is an air of anticipation as the sun settles behind the foothills. The skeletons of aspens and cottonwoods stand sentinel along neighborhood sidewalks, their scattered golden leaves soon to be decimated by the trampling of feet, wagons, and strollers. At dusk, adorable children with painted faces and pumpkin-shaped buckets begin to troll the streets.
At least, this is what I imagine happens.
It’s been years since I witnessed this tradition. I merely handle candy acquisition. My husband: distribution. While he responds to the doorbell with Pavlovian efficiency, I write recommendations and reply to my seniors’ frantic emails as they spend the last Halloween of their youth finalizing applications. Because for seniors, Oct. 31 isn’t Halloween.