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?

Profile: Carl Ahlgren

Carl with his son

Carl Ahlgren
Director of College Counseling
Gilman School (MD)

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?
This fall I will begin my 20th year as a college counselor.  It feels very strange to say that (write that) out loud.  
How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
I was in my third year of teaching History and Religion in the middle division of Casady School (OK), when my good friend and sometimes NACAC roommate, Tom Colt (now at Shady SIde Academy (PA)) decided to leave the associate college counseling position at Casady’s upper school so he could begin his graduate degree.  The Headmaster asked if I was interested in interviewing for the position.  I was,   and it all worked out in the end.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Leadership is service.  Find a role where you are confident you can contribute, serve others, and improve our profession, even in small ways.  My friend and colleague Marcia Hunt at Pinecrest School (FL) once said something like:  “Being a leader doesn’t mean you’re any better than anyone at anything.  It just means you stay up an extra hour to get some important work done.”  I like that line and think about it often.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
I’ve always regretted not pursuing something in theatre.  Not so much acting, but anything that would connect me to the life of the theatre - musical or drama.   That could be sets, writing, anything really.  Growing up in New York, my mother dragged me to shows on Broadway and off-Broadway when I was in grade school.  Eventually, she didn’t have to drag me.  I probably know the lyrics to more show tunes than most 48 year old male basketball coaches, and I am oddly proud of that.   I also could see myself very happy  cooking in a restaurant or in journalism.  
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
During my college years, I stepped away from being a full time student, took night courses, and during the day worked in  NYC and the surrounding suburbs as a professional carpet and upholstery cleaner.  There were two of us to a van (the “truck”). I was the Assistant Crew Chief, and the driver was the Crew Chief.  We drove all over NYC, cleaning carpets, furniture, and sometimes clearing out flooded basements, which was a pretty miserable part of an otherwise cool job.  The most beautiful and breathtaking homes I have ever entered are those whose carpets I cleaned.  It was also the start of my understanding the ways that class shapes people’s lives.

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
The crisis of under-matching or mismatching has received increased attention these past 4 or 5 years, but there are still too many seniors in the nation making poor and uninformed decisions about their college destination.  And sadly, these decisions will have a direct impact on the course and contours of their lives.  Most of the press and research has rightly focused on the low income families.  The inability of so many families, across a broad socioeconomic spectrum, to make thoughtful and informed college decisions is frustrating and sad to many of us in this work.  

I feel I need to add more more trend and concern.  Admission/enrollment leadership has lost too many good people to early retirement and other professions over the past five years.  The expectations that college presidents and Boards have made upon enrollment managers have, too often, been unconnected to institutional quality and the education of undergraduates.  Instead,  ambitious colleges and universities seek improved metrics, like selectivity, for reasons more connected to market position and rankings, rather than the learning and teaching mission of the school.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Profile: David "Butch" Hamilton

David "Butch" Hamilton
Dir. College Advising/School Counseling
St. Mary's Ryken HS

How long have you been in your current position at St. Mary's Ryken HS? How long have you been there total? 
11 years.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions? 
I was tour guide as an undergrad (Allegheny College ’85) and thought admissions might be a good field. Received a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education and entered college admissions at the University of Delaware. Eleven years there and now eighteen on the college advising side.

What's your favorite counseling memory? 
Every once in a while, a senior will stop by my office to tell me where they are attending in the fall. Even before they say the name of the school, they excitedly tell me all the little things they love about their destination. In my eyes, that signifies they have “respected the process” and the process respected them back. It is not only a great fit but perhaps it signifies an even better fit once they enroll, persist, and graduate in four years.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC? Find a topic or cause that you care deeply about and volunteer on a committee that tackles that issue. Learn, contribute, have fun and repeat!

If not working in college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 
Training and competing full-time for CrossFit events and obstacle course races. Sitting on a beach and watching the waves roll in on a sunny day would get boring pretty quickly.

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I have visited over 215 different colleges and universities.

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why? 
As Chair of the PCACAC Current Trends and Future Issues committee, I would say every current trend and future issue grabs my attention. To choose one, I would say that our profession needs to evolve ahead of a rapidly changing higher education landscape.