Sunday, February 5, 2017

Making the Most of Admissions Phone Calls

Hi everyone and Happy February! I hope 2017 is continuing to prove to be a great year for you. Today I wanted to talk with you about the phone calls that you get/will get from admission offices. Depending on the college, they will most likely be once a month or so. In my experience, a lot of students don't know what to do when they get these phone calls, so I thought I would share my suggestions with you all!

First, I'll give you a little background about my phone calling experience. I have worked in an admissions office making phone calls to students for the past six years. Before then, I was on the receiving end of the phone calls. So I know all about the good, the bad, and the ugliest of phone conversations and how to help you make the most of them!

Confession, these phone calls are to answer your questions and help you make your decision and that is all. They are not meant to annoy you or turn you off from the college. They usually have a purpose behind them: congratulations on your acceptance, file your fafsa, review financial aid package, come to accepted students day, have you made a decision. Right there that is five phone calls that you could get from an admissions counselor. Plus, the conversations you will have with current students so they can answer your questions about their experiences. LOTS OF PHONE CALLS and lots of opportunities to get your questions answered, here are my suggestions:
  1. When a question comes up in your head about a school, write it down. Keep all of your questions together so that you can grab that notebook or open the Notes App in your phone to ask the counselor or the student the questions you want to know.
  2. Separate those questions into those to ask students and those to ask your admissions counselor. For example, students are a lot better to talk about how often they use the library and what type of events are going on throughout the week, whereas your admissions counselor would be better to talk with about your financial aid package. 
  3. If they are calling too much, let them know! It is super okay to tell them, "Hey, I really like your college, but you are calling a little too much and I just need time to really weigh my options." I can't say that this will definitely work, but any self-respecting admissions counselor would lay off the calls for a few weeks. 
  4. Do not, do not, DO NOT hang up the phone on someone. That is incredibly rude and should in general just not be done, especially to a professional who is just trying to help you. If you are not interested in a school anymore, then tell them! It might take a few weeks to get out of the system, but telling them sooner rather than hanging up on them will do the trick and will help you out in the long run. 

I have always loved interacting with prospective and accepted students through phone calls. It is a great way to learn more about a college and start building a connection with the people there. Use these phone calls to your advantage to help you make the best decision possible for your future! 

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: Grace, Not Perfection

Hello all! If you recall from last year, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to read one book per week ... that didn't last long, but it did help me adopt the belief that if I find a book I really like, to buck up and take my time to read it.


This fall and early winter all I wanted to read was Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley, and after the holidays, I bought it on e-book and finished it in a week. It is a pretty quick read, but it is just as transformational. It is all about moving past this idea of perfection, over-planning, and worrying and embracing a life of beautiful chaos and doing so with confidence and poise. Truly a great read for anyone out there, but I thought I would use Emily Ley's concepts and thoughts as inspiration for today's post.

Emily has so many great, quotable pieces in her book, but what I took from it is that we need to live in the moment and be appreciative for what season of life we are in. I think that now a lot of us in the younger generation (15-25ish) are constantly looking for that next thing or to get on to that ultimate goal at whatever cost. This means picking work over family, studying over laughing with friends, being on our phone over visiting our grandparents .. basically anything that we can do that will help elevate us in our career. (I am 100% guilty too).

But, while reading Emily's words and convictions it really reminds you that you are exactly where you need to be to get to where you are going! We don't know what the future holds or where work and family will actually take us, but because of that we need to be satisfied in knowing that this moment is what is right.

I'll be very honest with you all throughout college, I was constantly wishing I was somewhere else in life; married to my now-fiance, working full-time, living in a big city, "thirty, flirty and thriving" ... etc. and because of that I never stopped to make any true real memories with my friends, I was constantly working towards that next goal, that next A, or that next great compliment from a boss. I missed out on so much because I was so anxious about what was to come in the future, that I wanted to prepare in every way possible. Now, I do not regret anything about my college experience because it brought me to this point, however I wish I had been able to read Emily's words a little bit sooner and embrace my college years and those moments.

One of the last thoughts she shares in the book, which is highly appropriate, is:

"One day we'll add up all our seasons - the Joyous ones,
the heart-wrenching ones, the momentous, average, and
peaceful ones. When we do we'll have a rich life story."
- Emily Ley, Grace, Not Perfection

And I truly think that this is what sums up college in a nutshell. College can be the craziest, scariest, most fun, and most frustrating time in our lives, but when you put all of those moments together, they give you the best, most transformational years of your life. So love and enjoy this season of life you are in (or about to be in) both the breakdowns at 2am and the celebrations at 2am because you will look back on both in years to come with fondness and appreciation. 

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day In the Life: College Admissions

Hi everyone! It has been a crazy week ... let me tell you! With work being busier than ever and lots of personal things going on, I am so happy it is Sunday! I hope you all had a great week of strategic goal setting and getting more in-tuned with your resolutions. Remember, they only become a habit if you let them, but let's move on to today's blog post!

Ever since I started my job as an Assistant Director of Admissions, I have wanted to do a day in the life post about what my day looks like as an Admissions Counselor. Every day is different and this past week wasn't typical by any means. We had a switch up in how we were working on students' applications and it was really an all-hands-on-deck type of week before I visited some high schools on Thursday and Friday. Nonetheless, I wanted to share with you all what a typical day in my college admissions office looks like! If you're interested ... keep reading!

Me in my office at the start of a great morning!

8:30am - Arrive and E-mails: My day technically isn't supposed to start until 9:00am, but I like to get into my office 30 to 45 minutes early so that I can get a jump start with planning my day and reading e-mails. In a day I probably send out 100 e-mails and usually when I get in in the morning I have some responses from colleagues, my student workers, and the students with whom I'm working. It can be kind of daunting (especially Monday mornings), so I like to start a little bit earlier to set myself up for a successful day. I'll also use this time to look over my schedule and make a to-do list based on all of the meetings and things I want to accomplish so that I know what's important and what I need to get done!

9:30am - Review Applications: We review applications every day so that there is a shorter wait time for our students to learn their decisions. Because of this, I like to review right away in the morning so that if I need to contact a school counselor about a student or request current grades, there is plenty of time to do that. This usually takes up the majority of my morning because I read through EVERYTHING that is in a student's file. I like to read each letter of recommendation, essay, and any other supplemental pieces a student provides, so it takes quite a bit of time to read each file. It's great though because I'm really able to learn a lot about my students!

11:30 - Interview: Lately a lot of my students have been visiting for the 10:00 tour, so after their tour I will interview them and answer any questions that they or their family have. I really enjoy meeting with students when they visit because it helps me learn even more about that, but also it helps them get to know me and understand my work style.

12:00pm - Lunch: Typically I will stay in the office during my lunch or I will go visit my grandma for a little bit. This is just my time to catch up with my colleagues, but also de-stress and check out social media. I am on twitter and then I also have a personal Instagram that you can follow me on. All the info is above in my Contact Me page. If I'm really busy or wasn't able to read all of my applications then I will work while I eat too.

12:30pm - More E-mails: I will use the time after lunch to follow up on my e-mails and voicemails from the morning so that I can call back any schools or plan on following up with the appropriate people while they are still working.

1:00pm - Office Tasks: So, I will use about an hour and a half working on other tasks and responsibilities within the office. So, not only do I work with students and review their applications, but I am also in charge of our Ambassador program (the tour guides) and I am also on the Events Committee. So, I may have to work on scheduling, on hiring or just troubleshooting any issues or concerns that come up throughout the week and day that need to be dealt with. Besides working with the students and their families, helping to plan out events is something that I really enjoy about my job!

2:30pm - Phone Calls: From about 2:30pm until I leave at about 5:30pm, I am doing phone calls and e-mailing students directly about their applications, events coming up, or exciting news. I like to call students when I have an update about the status of their application because I think it helps reduce anxiety about the college search process. I know when I went through the process, the waiting and not-knowing where I was in the stage was the hardest part, so I don't want any of my students to feel that way!

5:30pm - Check-In/Review: At the end of my day, I really like to check and see what all I got accomplished and what all I need to focus on for the next day. Knowing the night before what I will be walking into tomorrow helps me better prepare. For example, if I know it's not going to be too busy then I might go in at 9:00am, instead of 8:30am. This is my personal plan and it has really worked well for me and staying on track throughout the day.

So there you have it folks ... a day in my life as a college admissions counselor! All days are different and I never know what is truly waiting for me until the day unfolds, but ultimately I love what I do and I really enjoy working with the students, families, and schools that I do, which makes it all worth it!!

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Strategic Goal Setting

Hi everyone!

What a week! I hope you all are feeling happy and confident that you had the best week possible in your chase for college and future opportunities! With new semesters starting and the looming thought of new year's resolutions, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about strategic goal setting!


Now this isn't your typical, "I want to get an A" goal setting. This is goal setting with focus and steps to help you achieve your goals and gain that feeling of accomplishment! Let's get started ...

  1. Define your goal - What is it that you want to accomplish this week, semester, or year? Is it getting an A, is it gaining more followers on Youtube, or is it loosing weight? Whether it is academic-related or more personal, you need to accurately define this goal. Be specific in your goal. You need to quantify it so that you have something to aspire to.
  2. Quantify your goal - Now that you know what you want to accomplish, it is necessary to put some numbers or some adjectives to it. So you want to get an A, great, but where do you want to get that A? In Bio? In Class Participation? Gym Class? ... etc. You want to get healthy, does that mean eating more salads or working out three times a week?  I don't know about you, but I am more likely to work out everyday if my goal is to lose thirty pounds, than if my goal is to "get healthier." Think about it and structure your goal so that taking steps to do it, will be easier. That brings us to ...
  3. Make your procedure - How ya gonna do it folks? How are you going to map out your days and your weeks so that you have no choice but to succeed in accomplishing your goal? Your goal is to raise my GPA (1.), by increasing all of my classroom grades by five points (2.), and I am going to do this by a). using my commute to school to read my notes, b). stay after school twice a week to work in the library and meet with a teacher, c). locate one classmate who I can study with the week leading up to a test. These three procedures are all small, but very doable aspects of helping this student reach their goal.

    Your goal will seem more manageable when you break it down into actionable items that can be worked into your schedule easily.

  4. Create Check-Ins - If you've ever seen The Biggest Loser on NBC or any of those weight-loss shows, you know that they do a check-in at the end of each episode to see what was lost. Make a check-in a regular part of your goal. For the student above, it could be checking on their grades in each class on Fridays, or if your goal is to increase your number of youtube followers, have a check in at the same time every two weeks. Once you know the numbers, think about what happened that week to help you reach your goal or give you a little setback. Use this as fuel to continue working towards your goal. If you fell off the wagon, then create a new procedure to counteract that until the next check-in. We are all human and we make mistakes, but what's important is to keep working hard to accomplish those goals that you have set!
Setting goals is a part of growing and improving to help us reach a better spot in life. Set yourself up for success by following those four steps so that once you are done with the semester, the year, or even this week. You know that you worked as hard as possible and did everything in your power to accomplish them!

What are the goals that you have set for yourself and how are you accomplishing them? Feel free to comment below or tag me on twitter at @Chasing_College.

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, January 8, 2017

31 Questions to Ask a Tour Guide

Hi everyone! I hope your week was great and you are on your way to the best 2017 possible!  (Hint: It will be because you're chasing college. 😉)  I know that when you go on visits to college campuses, you aren't exactly sure what you want to ask ... trust me, I've been there on both sides of the tour!

Here's your ticket to bring prepared! I've compiled my list of great questions to ask the tour guides and students you meet while you are on campus! Here we go ...
  1. Have you ever had a conversation with the president?
  2. What has been your favorite class so far?
  3. What has been your least favorite class so far?
  4. Where do students spend their time between classes?
  5. Does Student Activities host any day trips places?
  6. What do your college friends study and do? (**This will help show you if the college is cliquey or if students grow friendships outside of just their major or their sport.)
  7. Do most students go home on the weekends?
  8. Do students have to pay for tickets to sporting events?
  9. How often do you meet with your academic advisor?
  10. For students that live off campus, what neighborhood do they typically live?
  11. Is there a doctor in the Student Health Center, or do students have to go to a local Urgent Care to be seen?
  12. What made you choose to go to school here, as opposed to the other colleges you applied to?
  13. What's your favorite spot on campus? (**This is my favorite question - it gives you something special to look out for, especially if it's a hidden secret.)
  14. How are faculty and administrators committed to student success?
  15. Where do students spend their Saturday Nights?
  16. Can every student use the athletics facilities or are they only reserved for team use?
  17. What can a student not have in their dorm room? Microwave? Keurig? Scentsy? Twinkle Lights?
  18. How do students get care packages or larger deliveries?
  19. Do more Freshmen choose their roommate or have one matched to them?
  20. What is the winter weather like on campus? (**Even two campuses in the same city can have different weather. It's good to know to plan for just rain boots and good rain jacket or a down winter coat and snow boots.)
  21. Are the intramural sports played within teams from the college or do the intramurals only play against other colleges?
  22. Would you say this is a more liberal or conservative campus? (**They will most likely answer in a politically correct way [I would tell my student workers to answer very pc], but it is something to ask that could help you find your fit at a school.)
  23. Is there a full kitchen with stove and oven in each residence hall?
  24. What do students do to relax during the day?
  25. Do your faculty and administrators have office hours that students can drop-in for if they have a question or need help?
  26. How late is the library and the dining facilities open during the week and on the weekend?
  27. Is there a lot of school spirit on campus? Does everyone support student performances?
  28. Can you recite the alma mater? (**If you're looking for a college committed to tradition, your tour guide should at least be able to recite a line, if not the whole song!)
  29. How do students get around campus? walk? bike? bus? car?
  30. How is the relationship between the college students and those who live in the town?
  31. Why should I choose this college? (**Don't accept "Because it's awesome," as an answer.)

I hope all of these questions will help you feel prepared for your next campus visit. If you won't be visiting a while, be sure to pin this or bookmark it to come back to for future college visits!

Is there another questions, that you always ask on college visits? Comment below so I can add it to my list! Have a great week!

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolutions: Prepping for College

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! It feels so good to be back at it with new content for Chasing College! It seems kind of perfect that I'm starting back up on New Year's Day!! I wanted to do a New Year's Resolutions post for students specific to the grade level you are at.

I've said many times throughout these posts that you can always be working towards your college goals and New Year's Resolutions are no different! Let's get started!!

9th Grade
1. Work Hard  - This seems really silly of a New Year's Resolution, but keep working hard in all of your classes. Set yourself goals, like improving your class participation or your homework completion so that you can set yourself up for success for the rest of the year!

2. Join a Club - If you haven't joined a club in your high school yet, right after Winter Break is a great time to do that. It's a great chance to find your niche in school and continue building your interests.

3. Meet your School Counselor - Set yourself up for success for the next 3.5 years by taking the initiative to meet and talk with your school counselor. Let them know what career path you might want to go down so that they can keep their eye out for any special programs or courses for you in the future.

10th Grade
1. Study - Take your time and study for those tests. Make it a resolution that you will spend a half an hour each night reviewing your notes for all of your classes. This will not only help for tests, but it will also help you with homework and essays in the future.

2. Take on a Leadership Role - Whether your class or a club needs help planning an event or a fundraiser, step up and see how you can help. Even if it is as small as organizing work shifts for a school dance, it will help you spread your wings and put you in a spot for future leadership!

3. Be Nice to your Family - This may not be to prep for college, but I can tell you I was a BRAT when I was in 10th grade, moody, mouthy, and miserable to my family. (I've heard from friends and colleagues that this is common among 10th graders). Because of this, just try to make your life and your family's life just a little bit easier by thinking before you speak ... your parents will be a little more reluctant to have you go on vacation with your bestie this summer ... just saying (not from experience or anything ;) )!

11th Grade
1. Get those Grades Up - Admissions Officers look at your 11th grade year more than anything else. Use this as a chance to make a last ditch effort to improve your grades. Insider Tip: If you don't have the best scores, we do like to see an upward trend in grades, so start studying, participating, and working on your homework. Even if you have to stay after school two nights a week to force yourself to get your homework done, make it your resolution so that you can get into your dream school!

2. Volunteer in your School - Volunteering and community service should always be on your New Year's Resolution list, but use this year as a chance to commit yourself to your school community. Take your study hall and volunteer in an elementary classroom, in the lunch room, with facilities, or in an office. This will put you in a great spot for a terrific letter of recommendation on your heart, commitment, and leadership!

3. Delve into your Career - Meet with your counselor to talk about job shadowing or summer camp opportunities that will look good on your college application, but also help you learn more about your career. Make it a resolution to do something that will help your future self in their career!

12th Grade
1. Take Advantage of Opportunities - You are entering your last six months with the people you've been around for twelve years. Take advantage of every opportunity to go to an away game, attend a concert, be in a play, help out another grade level, work with a teacher after school. Whatever comes in front of you to cherish, take advantage of it, otherwise you will regret it.

2. Challenge yourself - However you define challenge, go ahead and take it. Whether it is taking an AP class, running with the Track team, or learning how to cook in Home Economics, do it! You will thank yourself for getting outside of your comfort zone and learning new things!

3. Step Back and Watch - Especially with your leadership roles, make it your resolution to start stepping back and letting others step up to the plate. If you are president of a club, let that 10th grader come in and help you with some of your responsibilities. It will help them learn to lead under your guidance and you can set the stage for success once you step away. 

I hope that these targeted New Year's Resolutions will get you excited and motivated for 2017 and prepping your life for college! If you want some more ideas for resolutions, check out last year's post here. If there is anything I can do to help or a post on one of the resolutions, comment below! ⇩⇩ Thanks for reading and ...

enjoy the chase,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on all of my social media channels to stay up-to-date on all that is happening at Chasing College and beyond!