Aaron A. Arenas
Admissions Counselor, Freshman Admissions
Enrollment Management & Student Success
How long have you been in admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!
Professionally, this is my second year working in admissions for Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. I’m originally from Virginia, but made my way to Philly for this job at Drexel. I knew a lot of friends from college who were from the Philadelphia/South Jersey area and were always raving about how great it was, so I thought I’d check it out myself and haven’t regretted my decision.
How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
My first taste of college admissions was actually during my undergrad experience at George Mason University when I was a student ambassador for the admissions office there. That experience, as well as other experiences I had as a student leader in undergrad, had an impact on me in trying to figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated from college. I knew I wanted to work in education and work closely with students to help them figure out what their future plans should be after they graduated from high school. This all lead me to explore a possible job in admissions, which landed me at Drexel.
What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
Although I’ve only been working professionally in college admissions for two years, I’ve developed a ton of memories and experiences that would make it seem as if I have been working for 10+ years. Out of all of them though, I don’t think anything tops working an Accepted Students Day at Drexel. I find myself driven by excitement and “hype”, so being able to see hundreds of students who are excited to be at Drexel and are looking forward to going to college is definitely a reminder as to why I’m so passionate about education and student life. Seeing students walk into our admissions office who are ready to submit the enrollment deposit, then seeing the smile on their face after it’s done, knowing they were going to be a Drexel Dragon, is probably one of the most rewarding looks you could ever see on a student’s face. That makes this job all worth it.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Do it! I think the network opportunities and the amount of knowledge you can get by attending conferences and college fairs is definitely helpful in professional development. A lot of us who work in education, constantly tell students to get involved and become leaders. It’s only right that we practice what we preach!
If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
Hmmm….. I have SO MANY interests that it can be a bit difficult to point out one thing that I could possibly pursue at any given time. At this point in time, I think it would be something in either politics or sports. I don’t see myself running for a political office and being the face of a campaign, but to be able to work on a campaign and game plan behind the scenes is definitely something I would enjoy. I am also a sports junkie, so pursuing something in professional sports or college athletics, like scouting or athletic recruitment, is something I would like to do.
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I think it would be that my number one passion is cooking. It’s definitely a great stress reliever and a way to just remove myself from the “real” world for a moment. Being able to try out new recipes and altering others is a great way to get my creative juices going. I’m by no means a five-star chef nor do I see myself as the best cook in the world, but, in terms of passion, I like to see myself as a poor man’s Gordon Ramsay with a lot less yelling and cursing.
What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
Something that I’ve always been passionate about is college preparedness and retention within a higher educational institution. There are a lot of students out there who are not necessarily ready to tackle the college experience and sometimes drop out or fail college because of this. This definitely isn’t the fault of any one particular section of the student lifecycle, but to be able to work in conjunction with high school counselors, admissions representatives, student affairs staff, and college academic departments to help bridge any gaps is definitely something that I think is important for both the college and the student’s sake.