Thursday, January 22, 2015

50 for 50: Jill Lauck

Jill Lauck
Director of College Counseling
Tower Hill School (DE)

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

This is my 17th year in education. I spent the first 12 years of my career as an admission officer at Hampshire College, Wellesley College, and Princeton University, and moved to the college counseling side of things the summer of 2010, now completing my fifth year as director of college counseling at Tower Hill School.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

I got started in what I suspect were the usual ways: my college roommate and I were both interviewed and hired as tour guides at Bryn Mawr College on the same day in the spring of 1995, and I worked as a tour guide in both the academic year and summers as an undergraduate. I loved the intimacy of small tours at a place I adored as a student, and working at a place that felt so much like home felt natural. I was hired for my first formal admission officer position in the summer of 1998, right after graduating college.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

There are so many. At both Wellesley and Princeton, I was lucky enough to work in international admission (at Princeton I was the director of international admission), and so many of those favorite memories revolve around food all over the world: my friend Alice and I filling the table with amazing food and drink at our favorite Thai restaurant in Hong Kong (she worked at Columbia at the time and is now a college counselor in Seattle) – we used to order so much food and so many drinks with the most flavorful limes that our server inevitably had to bring us a second table!; sharing incredible meals at hole in the wall local places with my friend Panetha (at Brown University) in Athens and Istanbul; watching a rainbow appear as I pumped gas into my car in Montezuma, New Mexico, after spending a full two days interviewing students at the Armand Hammer United World College and after a long travel season, that rainbow was a welcome site; calling a student in Singapore to admit him from the wait list – he was on the subway, and it was 11 p.m. his time, but hearing the joy in his voice when I told him we had a spot for him. As a college counselor, I get to share in the little day-to-day joys of my students: last year, one of my terrific students was admitted early to his first choice school; he bounded in to my office to share the news, and afterward I quickly dropped a note to say congratulations to his parents. Turns out he’d not yet told them. I asked them to act surprised when he came home to share his good news! My other absolute favorite thing about working as a college counselor is the group of counselors here in Wilmington I’ve come to call dear friends. We have a remarkable little group of four who email, meet, and talk regularly – to vent, to celebrate, to say goodbye to another ED cycle, to travel to colleges together in the summers. I never knew I’d have such a collegial group of co-workers I adore when I began as a college counselor, and it has absolutely made the work a bit easier and to put things into greater perspective.

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

The same advice I try to follow every day: put your head down and work hard. Ask lots of questions, start small, and get involved in all the little things. Once people realize you are committed and capable of good work, they will ask you to become even more involved. Don’t walk in thinking you know all the answers, but definitely feel like you have a voice that should be heard and experiences from which others can learn. Your perspective – whether from a different side of the desk or from a college/university where you’ve worked – matters, and as long as you are respectful of the process in every setting, you will find a group of people happy to have your help and thoughts.

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

In something creative, frankly. If you look at my Myers-Briggs type indicator (INTJ/INTP), college counseling isn’t anywhere near the list of things recommended for people like me. I’m soft-spoken, and I’m naturally an introvert. This job, as well as speaking in front of huge crowds all over the world while working for Wellesley and Princeton, has forced me to be more engaged. Small talk doesn’t come naturally to me, nor does interaction with large crowds. But working with kids who want to learn and work hard does. If I weren’t an admission officer or a college counselor, I’d love to try my hand at architecture, at being a surgeon – both pretty solitary pursuits, which suit my MBTI! I’d love to be a travel writer (my wanderlust kicks in all the time), would love to be a pastry chef.

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

People who know me well know this, but I love to create and to bake and to cook. All of these things calm me down and relax me at the end of a difficult work day: I love the chopping and prep work involved in baking and cooking (and the precision of the former and the more loosey-goosey nature of the latter seem to suit both sides of my personality!). I am in love with all things Japanese and French, and have a passion for things made by hand: caramels, paper, and pottery.

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


I’ve always cared a lot about the adolescent development of girls, and the messages we send girls. The world has changed so much since I went through the college process 20 years ago: back then, as a girl and as a first generation college student who grew up in the coal region of eastern Pennsylvania, I didn’t know how many options there were in the world, but I definitely felt limited. We’ve spent a lot of time telling girls they can and should be anything they want, but I worry that it will take them a long time to realize they can have it all – just not all at once (usually). I want them to be strong advocates for themselves, and to work hard every day for gender equity and parity.

*** 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.***

50 for 50: Kathleen Martin


Kathleen Martin
Director of College Guidance
Wilmington Friends School (DE)


How long have you been in your current position at Wilmington Friends School? How long have you been in college counseling? 

I’m beginning my ninth year as the Director of College Guidance at Wilmington Friends.  Before switching sides of the desk, I was in college admission for eighteen years.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

After college graduation, I attended a wedding of a friend.  At the time, I was working at the mall so when someone at the dinner table mentioned that Moravian College had an admissions opening, it sounded very appealing!  Originally, I thought that higher education would be a great “first” job, but here I am, 28 years later, still loving it!

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

The amazing friends and colleagues that I have encountered shape all of my best memories.  One of my favorite cringe-worthy memories, however, comes from my rookie year.  Determined to impress, I showed up bright and early to a college fair in New Hampshire at my VP’s alma mater.  I worked the entire room, meeting everyone there, mentioning our mutual acquaintance, sharing stories about the VP’s high school days, schmoozing and networking my heart out.  As the start time of the college fair neared, I asked to be directed to the college fair tables.  One person wasn’t sure where they were, so she directed me to another woman, who, ever so kindly, informed me that the college fair had been the previous weekend, and that I had just spent an hour working the room at an alumni function!  Utterly humiliated, I returned to my B&B and sobbed all weekend, convinced that I would be fired first thing Monday morning.  However, when I sheepishly told my boss and my VP about my faux pas, their response was several minutes of uninterrupted laughter! 
 
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?

Get involved.  Take a risk.  If it feels a bit scary, it will probably lead to unexpected and wonderful growth! 

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

If not for higher education, I probably would have pursued a career in women’s health, serving as either a health educator or a midwife!  Actually, upon reflection, I think that the college process and the birth process have more similarities than I originally thought…a long process involving some pain and tears, usually resulting in a lot of joy!  

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

That in my next life, I plan to return as a blues singer.

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


Access and equity in higher education.  With the escalating costs of education, the shift from need-based to merit-based admissions, and the lack of access to resources, information, and guidance, the college access gap continues to widen.  College tuition is rising faster than health care costs while family resources remain stagnant.  Increasingly, it seems that private higher education is a case of the haves and have nots; those who can afford the sticker price can attend.  Access to quality education is the fundamental core of being a democratic citizen, yet, so many of our underserved students have limited knowledge, little to no guidance through the college process, while financial support is being cut and interest rates soar. Every student should be able to achieve the American dream! 

*** 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.***

50 for 50: Elizabeth Dugas


Elizabeth Dugas
Regional Recruiter for Virginia
Office of Undergraduate Admissions

The University of Alabama


How long have you been in your current position at University of Alabama? How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

I'm currently about a month away from 9 years, both at The University of Alabama and in college admissions.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

 I got started in college admissions by volunteering to cover college fairs for my law school alma mater (my collegiate alma mater had a regional recruiter where I lived, so I wasn't needed). I liked that so much, I decided to make a career out of it.

What’s your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

My favorite memory is calling to tell a particularly enthusiastic and determined student that she was admitted. She screamed at lot and cried a little. Afterward, I got a lovely voicemail from her college counselor telling me that, over her 30 years in this business that was one of her best moments as a college counselor. I still have the voicemail saved. 

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

Express your interest on the conference evaluation form! You may not be asked to serve on every committee that you express interest in, but chances are at least one will reach out to you.

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

I would probably be a Disney vacation planner, which I do informally for my own family and friends all the time anyway!

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

I have a completely unnatural fear of broken glass.

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

I'm passionate about the lack of higher educational opportunities for low income students, as influenced by the correlation between SAT scores and income and the use of merit-based scholarships that often go to the affluent. I would love to see the rankings publishers like U.S. News remove average test scores from their rankings altogether!


 *** 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.***

50 for 50: Robyn Lady

Robyn Lady
Director of Student Services
Performing Arts Administrator
Chantilly High School (VA)

How long were you in your most recent admissions position at Chantilly HS? 

I have been the Director of Student Services at Chantilly High School for the eight years. I delight in leading a strong department of 11 counselors and 2 career center specialists.

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

Prior to my current position, I worked as a high school counselor for 12 years at three other high schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (Marshall High School, Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology and McLean High School).

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

As a graduate student in school counseling I did not take any courses in college admissions counseling. When I started at Marshall High School in 1995, I learned on the job and managed to get through my first year. A colleague encouraged me to attend the PCACAC conference when it was held in Tyson’s Corner and that was the best advice I received during those early years. While working at TJ I began to develop strong relationships with the college side of the desk and committed to attending PCACAC and NACAC every year. My passion for college admissions counseling and firm belief in the transformative power of a college education continue to drive my work today.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

This is a tough question, because every year there are great memories…. but one does stand out above the rest.  A few years ago we had an amazing, rock star of a student leader (she was also a star student) wait- listed at her top school. Our entire Instructional Council at Chantilly was shocked by then news and wanted me to do something to fix it. I am not accustomed to contesting decisions, and I happened to agree with the decision rendered by the institution (based on what they knew about her at the time of the decision). What had not been conveyed in the application was the impact she made on our entire school community. I immediately drafted a letter that was signed by the entire IC and sent it to her 1st choice school.  I followed that up with a phone call and I was delighted to learn that the school was able to go to their waitlist and she was one of the first students offered admission. She continues to impress us and has been featured in the alumni magazine of her great university.

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

Commit to attending the annual conference every year. Volunteer to help with registration and/or offer to help with conference planning. Make time to speak with current leaders and learn more about the different committees. If you reach out to a committee chair, indicate your interest in that committee, share your interests/talents and ways you believe you can serve. PCACAC is an amazing organization.  Build relationships with people and leadership opportunities will certainly follow.

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

Just about anything sports related. I would love to work in broadcasting, her for a professional franchise, or for a college or university’s athletic department.

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

I was the Washington DC Metro Amateur Women’s Golf Champion in 2002.  Prior to becoming the Director of Student Services at Chantilly I would play six days a week during my entire summer vacation. Now I work 12 months and am lucky to play 20 times a year.

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

I am very concerned about the stress and anxiety on high school students in general.  The one thing that really concerns me is the “push” to take “career oriented” electives. I see too many parents pushing their kids into business, marketing, engineering courses in ninth grade and discouraging participation in the fine, practical and creative arts. 

*** 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.***


50 for 50: Jim Jump


Jim Jump 
Academic Dean and Director of Guidance
St. Christopher's School (VA)


How long were you in your most recent admissions position at St. Christopher's School? How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

I started in admissions at my alma mater, Randolph-Macon, right after graduation in 1976 (which suddenly seems like a long time ago).  with the exception of a couple of years in graduate school and three years working as an admissions director at an independent school, I've been in college counseling ever since.  This is my 25th year at St. Christopher's.

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

During my senior year in college, I was approached by the late Ed Cox, the admissions director at Randolph-Macon, about my interest in working in admissions after graduation.  I didn't tell him, but my initial response to myself was "I would never do that," which has since become the principle that seems to guide my career.  I aspired to a newspaper career, and had been all but promised a job at a good local weekly, but on the very same day I didn't get that job and got the offer to work in admissions.  Given what's happened to the newspaper industry, someone was looking after me.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

In the early 90's we had a student here who had a difficult junior year personally and academically, including shaving his head, running away from home and having two minor honor offenses at the end of the year.  The honor council recommended expulsion, but the Headmaster and I decided to see if we could get him into college instead.  We were successful, and four years later he wrote him a thoughtful note of appreciation after he graduated.  By coincidence, he e-mailed me yesterday to say he will be here today to look at the school for his five-year-old son.  

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

My involvements in PCACAC and later NACAC have not only made me better at doing my job, but have also been fulfilling and given me friends and colleagues at other schools and colleges.  That's important because college admissions and college counseling can be lonely jobs on your own campus.  No one really understands what you do (although they think they do), and as a result all of us need a network of support among colleagues.  I am by nature willing to serve but hesitant to volunteer, but I've always had the good sense to take advantage of a good opportunity.  I'd encourage everyone to look for ways to serve the profession (which I consider a noble calling), and be more willing to put yourself forward than I am inclined to be.

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

Not sure.  I was always good at identifying all the things I don't want to do, and not as good at figuring out what it is I want to do.  College counseling felt right from the first.  I would probably be pursuing my interest in writing in some form.

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

Two possibilities--1) I won the Richmond "World Series of Trivia" a number of years ago, winning a cruise for my wife and me; 2) there is a children's book named Jim Jump, published the same year I was born.  It's about a horse.

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

I am passionate about trying to focus attention on the developmental importance of the college search and choice processes.  The college process should help a student think about whom they are and what they want from life, and should serve as a bridge from adolescence into adulthood.  Right now a lot of forces in the college admissions process (acceleration/pressure on colleges as businesses) work against this, but I believe it's an essential part of a young person's journey of self-discovery.


*** 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.***

Thursday, January 15, 2015

50 for 50: Jake Talmage



Jake Talmage
Director of College Counseling
St. Paul's School (MD)

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

Like many admission people, I started by volunteering as a student in the office at my alma mater, William and Mary. Back then, students were needed to open mail, file papers, stuff envelopes, etc. That experience evolved into becoming a tour guide, then an internship. Through that internship, I had the opportunity to be a part of the admission committee, run an open house, evaluate applications, attend college fairs and much more.  I loved it. As I graduated, I moved to University of Vermont and confirmed that I loved working with students through this process. After eight years on the college side, I had the opportunity to move to the other side of the desk which seemed like the right move at the time.  I have now been a college counselor for fifteen years. I am not sure it matters which side of the desk I am on—I have enjoyed helping students throughout.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

Wow. This is tough. There are so many. They range from the silly—between the travel and working with teenagers, there are lots of laughs—to the impactful.  I have met students and colleagues who have done amazing things. But, my favorites can be grouped together. Whether on the college or high school side, I really enjoy when a student returns a year or two or more later and says, “Thank you.”

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

Get involved at the level that works for you. When I first returned to PCACAC after being in VT, I was an admission officer at Johns Hopkins. Given my duties there, I did not have the time to fully engage myself, but I still did what I could. I met wonderful people and learned a lot from my engagement. I moved out of region for five years, but then returned. As I returned, I had more time and could get more involved. I volunteered more and over time Co-chaired Professional Development. Then, I had to step back for a couple of years due to other time constraints. Now, I have the opportunity to give more and am happy to serve as Secretary, Vice-chair for Admission Practices and on faculty at Summer Institute. 

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

Those that know me know I love the outdoors, specifically fishing. During college and high school, I was the first mate on a sport-fishing boat. My dream was to own a small inn somewhere like the Outer Banks or Florida Keys and run a fishing guide/charter service through it.

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

A few years ago, my wife gave me a 1 gallon make your own beer kit and I have really gotten into it. At first, I followed prescribed recipes closely, but now I am experimenting more. My best attempt was an orange-infused summer ale while my most creative was a charred, bourbon-infused apple-wood IPA. I didn’t plan to char  the wood, but it proved very interesting. Maybe I could pursue a job in the craft beer industry if fishing didn’t work out.

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

Given my involvement in getting the waitlist on the NACAC National Assembly agenda, many would think that I would discuss the growth and use of waitlists. But, I think waitlist and other ethically grey areas are a symptom of a bigger concern. The real issue is that there is a lot of pressure on admission offices and counselors and this pressure is growing. Therefore, I am passionate that we remember that we are working for and with individuals who are growing. I believe the college search and selection process is part of that development. If we remember that, then we will be able to meet NACAC’s (and therefore PCACAC’s) mission to “advocate and support ethical and professional practice in helping students transition to postsecondary education. NACAC promotes high professional standards and social responsibility through collaboration, knowledge and education.” 


*** 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.***  

50 for 50: Matt Kaberline


Matt Kaberline
Co-Director, College Counseling
Severn School (Severna Park, MD)

How long have you been in your current position at Severn School? How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

This school year is my third year at Severn School.  Prior to joining Severn, I served as an admissions officer for a total of six years at the University of Mary Washington (VA) and Regis College (MA).

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

After completing my MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College (Yes, that degree does come in handy when writing letters of recommendation. I’m kidding, of course!), I was determined to teach writing at a college.  One of my grad school professors reminded me about the volunteer work I’d done for Emerson during new student orientation.  He mentioned admissions as a path to “getting my foot in the door” at a school and then trying to teach after establishing myself for a year or two. Little did I know that working with students closely as a counselor would become a passion that rivals teaching. 

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

There are so many of them to choose from! The memories that stick out the most all have one thing in common: first generation students.  As an admissions officer and as a counselor, there are few feelings better than helping students (and their families) realize that a college education can change their life and it is within their reach.

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

Take full advantage of these supportive, knowledgeable, and fun groups! I reach out to my fellow PCACAC members with questions frequently and they are quick to share valuable insights that help me to best serve students.  NACAC offers a tremendous body of resources that have furthered my growth in the counseling profession on both sides of the desk.

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

Teaching poetry workshops to children, teenagers, and senior citizens.  I am able to pursue this at Severn where I teach our creative writing class.  There’s a great deal of crossover between teaching writing and counseling students! Listening skills and reacting to emotion are important in both fields.

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

My childhood dream was to go to law school and eventually work in government or become a judge, but after college I turned down a scholarship to law school and took a year to figure out the next move in my career path. That was scary; I’m still in awe of the support and guidance my parents gave me during that period in my life.

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

Concussions and their impact on the teenage brain.  I suffered through a few of them when I was a child and now I see some of my students struggling to deal with the lasting effects of concussions.  New research on the subject is changing how we treat students and help them to return to learning.  I’m very curious to see how admissions officers and college counselors work together to support students suffering from concussions, especially when these injuries occur at inopportune times during the college application cycle.


*** 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.***