After graduate school, I took a position as a Transfer Admissions Counselor. My first job post-grad threw me for a curve-ball. The institution I was hired to recruit for closed its doors and I was back on the job search train after only three months. It was a transformation experience that taught me resiliency. (And to always have my resume updated and ready to go – just in case.) It also taught me that I have a passion for transfer students.
Recruiting as a Transfer Admissions Counselor is a lot different than recruiting traditional aged students right out of high school. I was fortunate to find a position right away again after the curve-ball, as a Transfer Admissions Counselor at a branch campus closer to home. (Everything happens for a reason!) It was in that position that I was really able to dig into the transfer student population. I spent fall and spring traveling to community colleges within a couple hour radius of campus. I met with transfer students from all walks of life. I met with staff at community colleges and learned their stories. I spent time wandering the halls (getting my steps in) between visits checking out this community college life.
I took a traditional path: high school, then college at a 4 year institution, and then graduate school. (I cringe as I use the word “traditional” because what is implied/what kinds of messages are being sent when we say a student takes a non-traditional path?) Higher Ed is changing and the ways that many of our students come to us are through different paths. And it’s all good! I’m excited to hear a student’s story no matter how their journey brought them to me.
Recruiting at community colleges opened my mind and my heart to the many different paths our students take. It opened my heart to the idea that starting off at a community college is not a “less than way to start out” as often implied. It expanded my awareness on a different level for just how many types of students are out there, and the multiple responsibilities that so many of them are juggling. How can I be there to be support them while they are continuing to prioritize their education?
My latest transition has been from transfer student recruitment to commuter student recruitment. I’m enjoying learning about and getting to know this new population of prospective students, but the lessons that I learned and the heart that I have for transfer students hasn’t faded away. Commuters are unique in their own way as well and I’m constantly thinking about the support that my campus offers and ways that we can improve their experience.
Spending hours at table visits recruiting at community colleges has taught me this:
- Students all have a unique story to tell, and a unique path that brings them to our desks. Embrace all of them.
- Some community colleges are doing really exciting, student-centered and learning centered things; I need to do a better job learning from them.
- Recruiting transfer students has framed my philosophy on recruiting all students: Be there to listen wholeheartedly to their story.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dean Kenneth Elmore on Student Engagement Efforts