Tuesday, May 27, 2014

50 for 50: Christopher Wild

Chistropher Wild
Admissions Counselor, Goucher College (MD) 
Where did you attend college?
Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Maryland
How long have you been in your current position at Goucher?
 I have been at Goucher for almost 2 years.
How did you get started in college admissions?
I got my start in admissions after working as a tour guide in the admissions office at the Mount. After really enjoying giving tours and meeting prospective students and their families, I decided I wanted to take on more of a leadership role and applied to be a Mount Ambassador Coordinator. In this role, along with 3 other students, I led the tour guide program and took on a semi-professional role in the office. We were given the responsibility of running the Sunday Visit program. It was a completely student-led program; we coordinated the logistics of the day, the registration process, gave a full one-hour presentation and then coordinated student-led campus tours.  During the day of the program, this event repeats itself so we actually did double of everything, one session at 1pm and the next at 2:30pm. As graduation approached, I was hooked! I knew I wanted to go into college admissions. I even pursued an honor’s thesis on the evolving marketing techniques of college admissions, with a special emphasis on social media and the widely “popular” quick response codes. (Whatever happened to those?) After graduation, I sought positions at schools similar to my experience at the Mount and ultimately found Goucher College, where I have been ever since. 
What's your next step in admissions? Where do you see yourself going?
The future can be a scary thing, but there will be one constant for me going into it, and that is admissions. I ultimately see myself moving up the ladder so to speak to become an assistant director and maybe one day a director. I could also see myself moving out of the role of admissions counselor and moving more to an admissions communications/marketing role. I would one day love to return to my alma mater and work in admissions at the Mount.
What's your favorite admissions memory?
That’s a really tough question; there have been many memorable moments. I can narrow it down to two. My first is presenting at the Fall 2011 Maryland College Student Personnel Association (MCPA) conference with my mentor, Eddie Wright. It was my first time presenting at a conference and the topic, “Creating the Next Generation of Admissions Professionals”, was a cool way to reflect on the program that brought me to the admissions profession. My second would be creating and producing my first video chat. I came up with the idea in shower, developed it on my commute to work, pitched it to my VP, got it approved and then went about finalizing the details all in the same day. Billed as #GoucherAMA, a Reddit style video chat, it was my first attempt at bringing video into the fold as a marketing component for our office, something I had been trying to do since my arrival to Goucher. 
If not working in admissions, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
That’s another tough question. I really don’t know that I could see myself doing anything else. Working in admissions really doesn’t feel like work, it is just another part of who I am. I guess if I really had to have another job, it would be working in some capacity for the Baltimore Orioles. I have been a diehard fan since birth and plan on becoming an usher at the stadium once I retire.
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I would say the one thing that most people don't know about me is that I am a HUGE fan of karaoke. It just takes the right amount of liquid courage to get me on stage. :)
What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
An issue that I am really passionate about right now is gapping in financial aid packages. As college prices have continued to climb, more and more merit aid is being dished out to attract students with higher academic qualifications. I worry that students who may be great fits for certain colleges are having their choices limited by financial constraint. In an ideal world, I would love to see the discontinuation of “merit” scholarships for a system that awards aid based solely on need.

*** To Celebrate Potomac Chesapeake's 50th Conference Anniversary, we're highlighting some of our current members. Each week until the conference at The Homestead in Spring 2015, a new member will be posted. Interested in participating? Email Aundra Weissert at aweissert2@washcoll.edu to get started.***

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

50 for 50: Kelly Farmer

Kelly Farmer
Director of Admissions, Stevenson University (MD)
2014-2015 PCACAC President
How long have you been in your current position at Stevenson?
I’ve been in my current position for three years and am closing in on 12 years at Stevenson total.
How did you get started in college admissions?

I was the first person in my family to attend college and like many other people I’ve met in our profession, being a first-generation college student inspired me to want to help other students navigate this process. I distinctly remember walking the campus of Ohio University with my family just after a tour during my college search and having my mom turn to me and say something close to, “I could see you being a tour guide wherever you go to school. I think you’d be happy to go to college and never leave.” Whether she was prescient, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, I succumbed to the power of suggestion, or she just knew me too well, that’s exactly what happened. It’s a fairly traditional college admissions story, I suppose. I’m a proud alumna of the University of Maryland where I was honored to be selected for Maryland Images, the volunteer student ambassador organization, at the end of my freshman year. I loved talking with the students and families so much that I started asking the staff about other ways to get involved with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (OUA). They hired me as a student worker, but treated me like a colleague. They gave me great opportunities to learn and helped me realize that admissions was something I could do as a career and love. I’m so grateful to that Maryland OUA staff for the way they launched me into this profession and think about it all the time when working with my students now.
What's your favorite admissions memory?
There are lots of things about admissions that sustain me on a day-to-day basis, but all my favorite memories revolve around our professional community. The people who choose to do this work are energetic, bright, fascinating, and talented ‘people people’ and I love spending time with you. So – my two favorite admissions memories are being part of the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2009 NACAC Conference in Baltimore with those infamous crab hats (so fun to host NACAC in my own city!) and the four years I spent as a co-host on the Maryland Crab Crawl counselor tour. Hosting 50+ college counselors on a 5-day bus tour of 11 colleges is exhausting, but so much fun.    
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Dive right in and don’t be shy about your interest! Pursue the work and leadership will follow. Volunteer for a committee (conference planning was how I first got involved) and learn more about the work we do. Take on a project and show you’re committed to it. Do some grunt work and do it well and it won’t take long for people to ask what else you might like to do.
If not working in admissions, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
I majored in journalism and public relations as an undergrad and thought about going into PR for a non-profit organization after college if I didn’t go into admissions. I have a number of friends with very successful careers in corporate communications. Mainly, though, I love learning and I think no matter what my work would be connected to education somehow. When I was a kid I wanted to go to law school and that’s still something I think about doing one day – higher ed law was one of my favorite classes in grad school. My master’s thesis was on perceptions of cost in higher education and I could see myself getting a PhD. in economics because I’d love to dig into the finance of higher education from a purely econometric perspective. Taking either of those backgrounds into a career with a higher education policy group or into higher ed consulting is something that could possibly appeal to me. If I had any talent whatsoever, though, I’d parlay those 12 years of tap and jazz lessons I took as a kid into a career as a Broadway performer.    
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
The worst kept secret about me is that I have a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. I took a beginning martial arts class my senior year of college and earned my first-degree black belt when I was 24. I’m not training toward a second degree, but I keep my skills up enough to allow me to teach four classes one night a week at my studio.
What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now?
There’s nothing more pressing on my mind than affordability and financial access to a college education. Tuition prices are rising far faster than inflation or family incomes, the Pell Grant program has lost almost all of the purchasing power it once had, and sticker prices are so out of sync with actual costs that it is nearly impossible for families to understand which schools will be a financial reality once they get to the end of the process. If students don’t have access to a knowledgeable school counselor with time to help them, they are lost. A handful of our most elite universities have an endowment and student base that allows them to be both need-blind and meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. The rest don’t have this luxury. This isn’t just an issue in private higher education, either. States all across the nation are essentially divesting their interest in public higher education. It worries me that higher education is coming to be seen as a private good where the benefits accrue to the individual rather than a public good where benefits accrue to society. As a private good, higher education doesn’t deserve to be funded. As a public good, it does.

*** To Celebrate Potomac Chesapeake's 50th Conference Anniversary, we're highlighting some of our current members. Each week until the conference at The Homestead in Spring 2015, a new member will be posted. Interested in participating? Email Aundra Weissert at aweissert2@washcoll.edu to get started.***