Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Special Program...Reply ASAP

As part of the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC) Admission Practices (AP) Committee’s desire to proactively promote ethical practices, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

December Case: The following e-mail arrived in Sally Student’s inbox, “Dear Sally, Congratulations on your admission to Holiday University. In the holiday spirit, we have a gift for you! Our Workshop Engineering Department noticed your great efforts in your school’s maker space club. Therefore, we would like to offer you a scholarship of $5000 and a space in the Workshop Engineering Department. Space is limited. Please reply by sending in your enrollment deposit. Congratulations, Jolly Admission Director.”  Sally brought the letter to her counselor. Is this situation compliant with NACAC’s SPGP?

Discussion: While this case may look easy to those familiar with NACAC’s SPGP, there are actually two issues. According to Mandatory Practices II. B. 3, “All postsecondary members agree they will permit first-year candidates for fall admission to choose among offers of admission and institutionally-affiliated financial aid and scholarships until May 1, and state this deadline explicitly in their offers of admission, and not establish policies nor engage in practices whose effect is to manipulate commitments prior to May 1.”

Issue 1: Does Holiday University give Sally until May 1? The answer to this is unknown. For this reason, alone, the counselor should complete a NACAC confidential complaint form to alert the Admissions Practices Committee. Please note, May 1 applies to all programs and institutionally-affiliated financial aid and scholarships even though the Workshop Engineering scholarship/program might be managed through a different part of Holiday University.

Issue 2: Does Holiday University explicitly state whether the enrollment deposit is refundable? The Interpretations section of NACAC SPGP II. B. 3 states, “offers of admission must clearly state whether deposits submitted by students prior to May 1 are refundable or non-refundable.”

Conclusion: Holiday University may or may not be operating with good principles. However, this e-mail does not clearly communicate that fact which makes the e-mail an apparent violation.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Meet the new Admission Practices (AP) Vice Chair

The Admission Practices (AP) Committee welcomes a new Vice Chair - Dale Bittinger. 

The Admission Practices (AP) Committee is charged with an annual review of the Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and of the monitoring procedures that are used when a member institution of NACAC makes a formal complaint of an ethics violation against another member.  The AP Committee is expected to be aware of evolving new practices and procedures within the admissions counseling community and to recommend appropriate changes in the SPGP to the NACAC Admissions Practices Committee.

Here's more about our new Vice Chair of AP!

Dale Bittinger
Assistant Vice Provost
Undergraduate Admissions, Orientation, and School Partnerships
UMBC: An Honors University in Maryland

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling? Share your College counseling journey story!

Over twenty years.  I started at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) before following one of my mentors to work at Georgia Perimeter College (then DeKalb College) in Atlanta before returning to Baltimore.  I was subsequently hired as the Assistant Director of Transfer Admission at UMBC moving up to ultimately becoming the Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Admissions, Orientation, and School Partnerships.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

While in graduate school – in the counseling program (ironically community counseling and not school)  – I received an assistantship to be an academic advisor.  This lead to my first position at BCCC where I made the move to enrollment management and admissions.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

I worked with a student – Matt Courson – who moved to Baltimore after being paralyzed in an ATV accident.  He played baseball at Arkansas and went through his rehabilitation at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  He was told he would never walk again, but he has.  His story – which can be found at http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/tag/matt-courson-human-factor/ - is truly inspirational to all of us and is another example of the diverse student population at UMBC.   

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?

Follow your passion, whatever it may be.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?

Probably something with youth sports or something completely different – a landscape architect. 

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?

I have a big interest in girls' education and all the messages they receive at young ages.  Most likely this is because I have three young girls currently in school and I want them to have a strong sense of self – whatever that may be.

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?

Affordability and the amount of debt students have once they leave college.

What made you decide to join the AP committee?

I have always enjoyed working with Jake Talmage, the AP Committee chair, and consider Lou Hirsh, my “moral compass” in our profession, so the opportunity to connect with them and,  hopefully leave a similar mark, was too good to pass up at this time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

2015 Rising Star Award - Public School Counselor Training

photo from the NACAC website: NACAC President Jeff Fuller presents the Rising Star Award to members of the Professional Development Committee Robyn Lady (chair) and Rebekah LaPlante, and Rosemary Martin.

Not only was a PCACAC individual a recipient of a Rising Star Award this year, we also received an award for our professional development efforts with Public School Counselors!

We had a chance to chat with Robyn Lady, chair of the Professional Development committee.

The rising star award honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students in the transition from high school to college. How do you feel being offered this opportunity by your peers and colleagues?  

I was delighted to learn that Kelly Farmer, immediate Past-President of PCACAC, wanted to submit a Rising Star nomination for the Professional Development (PD) work that we have been doing for public school counselors in our region. Being selected by NACAC for the award was absolutely wonderful. There is nothing better than be recognized by peers in a profession full of passionate people who are all doing fabulous work.

Can you briefly describe the Public School Counselor Trainings that won the award? 

I have been working in public schools throughout my entire career. As a former counselor and now as the Director of Student Services at Chantilly High School, where I supervise 12 counselors, I am well aware of the need to provide College Admission Counseling training to counselors who work in this setting. All public school counselors have a Masters Degree in school counseling; however, most of them never had a class in college admissions counseling.  Public school counselors are provided little to no funding for PD outside of the actual school system. To that end, with the support from the PCACAC Board, I set out to provide free trainings throughout our region. Most of these trainings take place during a “teacher work day”, when there are no students in the building, enabling counselors to access the training more easily.  The PD committee reached out to several public school systems in VA and MD and provided full day trainings for several of them. The largest two took place in VA.  Last March we trained 120+ Middle and High School counselors in Prince William County and this past August we trained 130+ from Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover Counties in VA. It is our hope that this award will result in more public school systems in VA, WV, MD, DE, and DC to contact us to develop and deliver quality PD to even more counselors throughout our affiliate.

Our profession needs good people to be stewards of access and education. What issue are you most passionate about concerning college counseling and admissions?  

It is hard to pick one issue.  I think the best answer is “I am passionate about the transformative power of a college education” and in turn steadfastly committed to doing everything I can to help more students and families, not only get admitted to college, to stay the course and graduate, and with as little debt possible.

What’s next on the PD committee horizon? What issues do you want to tackle in 2016?

The PD Committee is busy planning upcoming events. We hope to get called upon to plan more public school events for January, March/April and perhaps June.  We also presented at the Virginia School Counselors Association conference. We plan to reach out to colleges that have a Masters Degree in School Counseling degree and hope to train the students in the program. We welcome the opportunity to develop a training or workshop to meet any other PD needs in our region.

What advice to you have to share for others looking to pursue their passions and make a mark in the admissions world?

I challenge everyone to continue to push their own limits. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes all of us to keep the college dream alive for all students. Think creatively, work hard and embrace the opportunity to serve. Continue to use your talents for good in this profession, celebrate your successes and know that you all make a difference every day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

2015 Rising Star - Rosemary Martin

Each year during the National Conference, NACAC presents Rising Star Awards. This year, PCACAC leader and member Rosemary Martin (Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Maryland) was the recipient of an individual award!

According to the NACAC website,

The Rising Star Award honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students in the transition from high school to college. 
This award encourages NACAC affiliates to look within their associations, identify and nurture those new members and programs that are deserving of this honor and also encourage the honorees to continue their professional development through membership in NACAC.

We got the chance to sit down with our Rising Star Award recipient Rosemary Martin.

Can you briefly share your admissions experience here (when and where you started, all of your movement).

Like many in our profession, I fell into the world of college admissions. After I graduated from Shenandoah University in 2008, I began to work in the IT industry for a DOD contractor named Iron Mountain. One day I realized this was not my calling (the computers did not speak back to me and I lacked human interaction), I decided to call my college advisor and ask her how to make a career move back to the Communications world. 

She had just received a job notice from the Office of Admissions at SU that they had a position on their newly-developed communication team. Knowing that Shenandoah had once been home to me, I knew it was a good opportunity. At SU I held many responsibilities that included developing the brand and finding different platforms and avenues to spread the SU message.

I also held a small recruiting territory which is where I absolutely fell in love with college admissions recruiting. I knew that although I loved the technology and media side to my position that there was something special about working directly with students and families. About three years later, the opportunity to work with Purdue University as their DC area representative was presented to me. I knew moving to a bigger university and becoming a regional representative would be a great career change. I was with Purdue for almost two years and now have taken a position as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Maryland. 

The rising star award honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students in the transition from high school to college. How do you feel being offered this opportunity by your peers and colleagues?

I feel incredibly honored and humbled to know that my peers and colleagues recognize the small but large strides I have made. Especially when I know there are so many of us in our affiliate and other affiliates across the nation doing some ground breaking and life changing work. I am excited to continue to brainstorm and work hard to continue to do work that my peers and colleagues respect and are supportive of. The possibilities are endless!

What thoughts went through your mind when your name was called to receive the award?

Honestly, Si Se Puede! I also hoped that somewhere in the grand universe my parents were able to see me on that stage and knew all their efforts migrating to this great nation did not go unrewarded nor unnoticed. Unfortunately, they passed away prior to being able to see me accomplish a lot of things and I, like many other migrants to this country, appreciate all of the efforts and sacrifices they put forth to give us these types of opportunities. I also thought about how lucky I am to have such a supportive affiliate that embraces each of our accomplishments. They were in the crowd cheering me on which felt fabulous! Lastly, I thought, man I hope I don’t trip as I go onto this stage!

Our profession needs good people to be stewards of access and education. What issue are you most passionate about concerning college counseling and admissions?

Inclusion and Access is something I am very passionate about. Being a first generation Latina and experiencing what it is like to go through the college search and enrollment process have fueled my fire at this moment. I do a lot of work with the Latino community ensuring they are well informed and have all the resources they need to be able to have a successful journey. I am excited to see where my efforts as well as my colleagues that share the same passion can impact the future for Latino students across the board.

What’s next for you professionally? Where would you like to see yourself in 5-10 years?

In 5-10 years I hope to see myself continuing in the college admissions world. I would ultimately one day serve in leadership and be able to share all of my experiences and excitement with a team of great individuals.

What advice to you have to share for others looking to pursue their passions and make a mark in the admissions world?

You will hear people say time and time again to get out there and get involved. It’s true! Decide where your passion lies and get excited about it. Think outside of the box and decide how you are going to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to dream and dream big and go for it! It’s all about how much time and effort you are willing to put in. We are all busy in this industry but we cannot forget that we are here for the students and we have the power to make a difference in the future of each of their lives. Even the smallest effort can be life changing for some.

Just for fun, what’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I love music. Like LOVE music. My favorite types of music are definitely Punk Rock, Jam band music, Latin music, and old school Hip Hop.  Everyone already knows I like to dance so that cat is out of the bag! 

Congratulations to Rosemary, we look forward to your continued leadership in PCACAC!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Profile: Rebekah LaPlante

Rebekah LaPlante
Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions
Virginia Tech (VA)

How long have you been in the college counseling/admissions profession?
15 lovely years!

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
I started as an Assistant Director in The Office of Admissions at Radford University (my alma mater) after completing a bachelors and masters degree from RU, both in the communication field. My experience as an orientation leader as an undergrad peaked my interest in working in higher education and then after teaching public speaking courses in grad school, it further verified my interest in working with students in some capacity. I attended a session at my first conference presented by none other than Mildred Johnson (had no idea she would be my future boss at the time) and Barry Bradberry (who I now consider a dear friend) where they discussed the “career” of college admissions and after five years, you may be a “lifer”. Well, I guess I’m a “lifer”. 

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
Thankfully, I have too many to count…however, I would say most of my favorite memories have included the opportunity to share good news with an applicant when I’m able to call and notify them of an offer of admission to VT. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a great team in my office and of course many others in our profession that I consider friends, so the "favorite memories" are abundant!

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Just do it! Ha Ha! If you do it right, it does take more time and effort than most people realize. However, it will be very rewarding and will not only help you to become a better professional, but it will also provide you with the opportunity for service, which I believe is very important in our line of work. Start out volunteering on a committee at our regional level and additional opportunities will likely open up if you are able to do more. You do have to put the time in and seek support from other colleagues either within your own office or reach out to others when needed. We’re all in this together. :-) 

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 
Hmm…I started college with an interest in broadcast journalism, theatre, teaching and counseling before I settled on communication, so I suppose those would all be possible career pursuits. My true passion would be to open my own bakery and/or brewery or be a DJ (I could still give out college admission advice on the side). 

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
Lets be honest, I am an open book. I don’t think there is much the organization doesn’t know about me. I am a very positive person (most of the time), love to cook, appreciate a good craft IPA and love to dance! I really love to dance! The one thing not as many people may know is that college was not an automatic option for me. I am a first generation student and as much as my parents supported me, this was a very new venture for them. With the help of a thoughtful high school counselor, my mom and I sort of figured the whole college application process out along the way. And as they say, the rest is history. 

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?

A future issue that I am passionate about are the issues that face first generation college students. I am concerned that the gap is not closing, but unfortunately widening between opportunities to assist the students that really need our help in the college admissions process and overall implications for cost/debt as well. I know our organization and individual counselors and college admission professionals are doing what we think we can, but I believe we can do more! I hope to be able to find additional ways to serve this population and focus on the socioeconomic gap as well. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Profile: Charter Lindley

Charter Lindley
Associate Director of Admissions
Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, VA)

How long have you been in the college counseling/admissions profession?
Randolph-Macon is where I began my official career in admissions in July 2008.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
I was a high school teacher for three years prior to R-MC. I taught students with emotional and learning disabilities, and—really—it was during those years as a special ed case manager that I began counseling students and helping them set higher education and transition planning goals. I just didn’t know at the time that I was getting my start in college counseling/admissions. Soon then—during a time that I was starting to rethink a teaching career—I randomly met a young professional who worked in college admissions, and we got to talking about his job. It was an A-ha!! moment for me. This was a profession meant for me: my passions were transition planning and goal setting for young adults (my graduate school theme), and travel and customer service (years in service industry and retail). I almost immediately applied to an opening and got the job (after some special people in my network got me the interview). Of course, since then, the profession has become so much more.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
My goodness—there are so many. We have a good time in the R-MC admissions office, especially. There's always laughter among the seriousness... and a good Snapchat is never far behind this time of year. You know, there is a special fondness I have for one particular homeschooling session I attended at the NACAC conference about 5 years ago. That was another “Yes, please, tell me more!!” moment in this profession. Don’t you love feeling that way!? Wait, actually, is it unprofessional to tell you that my favorite memory from my admissions career was on an international recruiting trip, zipping a rental car through the narrow streets of Brussels during rush hour. SO MUCH FUN!

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Am I qualified to speak on this subject?!? I don't see myself as a leader within either organization, and I don't intentionally aspire to lead. Anyone else really, really like middle management? That's my happy place. That said, I would give the advice to figure out which current leaders and peers you admire and find ways to engage with them, ask questions, be professionally curious, be generous with genuine praise, and accept challenges. The ACAC community is so friendly and approachable. Also, volunteer however you're able, and don't be afraid to have different ideas.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 
Whenever I take career interest inventories I end up with results that say I should be a construction worker or a scientist. I can see that.

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I am an introvert. Being around people-- even though I find relationships rewarding-- is exhausting for me. If you know me only professionally, you'll likely be surprised by this because I turn it on in social/networking settings or when presenting to a large audience. This persona is not insincere (my fellow introverts know what I mean here), but being social or high-energy isn't my natural state. As you can imagine, I'm regularly challenged by this character trait in our profession, but it has allowed me to grow and master some skills I otherwise wouldn't have. 

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why? 
I'm fascinated by the concept of evaluating/ranking institutions of higher education based on outcomes. How can this data be realistically tracked and standardized across the region or nation, who is responsible for tracking it, what type of outcome is considered a "success"? I know I'm meeting more students looking for a professionally-geared, narrowly-focused major. They want a degree that will present them with immediate employment after graduation. And now that the pressure is increasing, what are traditional colleges doing-- specifically what are "Career Services" offices doing differently-- on campuses to faciltate successful outcomes? As this all relates to the college search, the value of a non-utilitarian education, and the future livelihood of higher ed institutions... this is so fascinating to me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Admissions Practices Presents to Common Application

Admissions Practices Chair Jake Talmage (Director of College Counseling, St. Paul's School) visited the Common Application Headquarters in Arlington, VA on Monday, August 24 to present Ethics in Admission to approximately thirty Common Application staff members. 

During the presentation, Jake introduced NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP), provided an overview of the Admissions Practices Committee and led discussions concerning several sample cases.  

According to the Heidi Dillard, Director of Human Resources at the Common Application, “Our team learned a lot from Jake and it will help them be better at their jobs.  The team found him engaging, informative and fun!”  

Jake’s visit was initiated after two Common Application staff members saw a similar presentation at PCACAC’s Summer Institute in July and suggested similar training for the office. PCACAC was happy to support the educational training. 

Profile: Lou Hirsh

Lou Hirsh
(Director of Admissions, University of Delaware)

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?
I started in 1975, which I realize is well before many of PCACAC’s members arrived on this planet.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
Like most people, I stumbled into it.  In the 1970s I was working on a doctorate in 16th century British literature at Columbia University, but seeing that there were no teaching jobs in the humanities, I started exploring other things to do with my life.  I talked to directors of admission and discovered, among other things, that on both sides of the desk our profession is populated by people who are unusually compassionate, generous, and friendly.  What a great incentive to get involved!

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
I used to volunteer as a marshal at Delaware’s Commencement.  One year, as I was ushering lines of graduates into their seats, I was startled when one of them pivoted around on his heels and blurted out, “Thanks, Mr. Hirsh, for taking a chance on me four years ago.”  I suddenly remembered that four years earlier he had interviewed with me to “plead his case” after we had waitlisted him.  It was on the strength of that interview that I had gone ahead and admitted him.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
One of the saddest developments of my lifetime is the cynicism that has permeated every aspect of our society.  In spite of that, NACAC and PCACAC remain organizations where people care about “doing the right thing.”   My advice is to get involved so that you can experience the pleasure and optimism that come from helping students and colleagues.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
I’d have been a teacher.

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
After spending a lifetime working with college-age people, I now volunteer with my wife as a mentor at a local elementary school.  What a hoot working with 2nd and 3rd graders!

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?

My term as Chair of NACAC’s Admissions Practices Committee runs from October 2015-17. Prospective college students deserve ethical behavior.  They don’t always get it.  Because NACAC’s National and Affiliate Admissions Practices Committees defend students and colleagues against unprincipled practices, they are the conscience of our profession.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Profile: Katie McEnroe

Katie McEnroe
Associate Director of College Counseling
Holton-Arms School (Bethesda, MD)

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?
I'm going into my 5th year in Admissions/College Counseling. I had the privilege to start my career in the Washington College Admissions Office in Chestertown, MD. I worked for Washington College for 4 years in different capacities.  First, I was an administrative assistant in the Admissions Office and an assistant field hockey coach. I learned a great deal about what it takes to process inquires, visits and applications. I also got to learn a lot about the role athletics plays in enrollment and admissions. This was invaluable information when I moved into my full-time role as an Admission Counselor. During my years as an Admission Counselor, I was supported by my office to explore the world of Higher Education through the NACAC and PCACAC organizations, and I became extremely interested in college access. When the very unique Baltimore Regional Representative position opened up at Washington College, I knew it was the perfect position for me. As a Regional, I would be able to interact with students even more while still working towards my enrollment goals. After my year working in Baltimore City and County, I realized what I loved most about my job was counseling students. So, in July I took a role as the Associate Director of College Counseling at the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, MD.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
Even though I loved my Biology major, I didn't fall in love with any of the internships that I did through my time in college. I instead, fell in love with a job a got as a Senior Admissions Fellow at Bates College in Lewiston ME. In this role, my supervisor exposed me to the behind the scenes parts of admissions, such as application review and enrollment practices. I also loved learning about the business of higher education. 

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
I have a tons of moments working with fantastic, passionate, and intelligent colleagues who challenge me to think bigger and better. But honestly, my favorite moments are with my students and the young professionals that I'm mentoring.  These memories generally fall into two categories:

  1.  The moment when the students trust that I have their best interest in mind
  2.  The moment when I help them understand how much they have to offer this world 

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Say “Yes” to everything that you think is a good opportunity in front of you and then get ready to  
work! And remember, no matter where you are in your career or knowledge-base, you always have something to bring to the conversation!

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
I would most likely be working at an NPO with Public Health. I love science, policy and how these organizations help society by helping individuals. 

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I don't like Chocolate!

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
This is a very tough question! I’m passionate about many different trends and issues. I think the three main topics I find myself thinking about the most each day are college access, college rankings, and the cost of higher education.

College Access: How are we supporting education for all people in America? Is there a way we can do it better? What are some good examples around the world and are they applicable to the United States System?

College Cost:  Cost and Access often go hand-in-hand. It takes a lot of money to keep a school going, but can we lower the cost without impacting the students’ experience? What should be a norm on campuses?

College Ranking: Are the rankings of schools hurting or helping our student? I have been asked to explain, “Why is your chemistry program good?” What does “good” mean, and how can we accurately measure programs so that information will be useful to students?