Friday, March 11, 2016

Profile: Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards
College and Career Center Specialist
Lake Braddock Secondary School (VA)

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

I have been working in college advising for 14 years at Lake Braddock Secondary School.  I absolutely love my job!  I started working at LBSS 18 years ago as an instructional assistant, after being a military stay at  home wife/mom.  A year later I started working in the office of School Counseling as the registrar and was very fascinated as to what our Career Center position had to offer.

How did you get started in college counseling?

I applied for the position three times before the job was offered to me.  On two occasions applicants with direct experience were selected over me.  I never was discouraged I learned from those folks and I guess it paid off, third time was a charm and I was selected.  In the last 14 years I have had the pleasure of serving on numerous college advisory boards, mentored four new FCPS Career Center Specialist and have become very involved in PCACAC serving various committees.

The job is never boring and you learn something new every day.  The opportunity to travel and meet new people is just one of the many perks of the position.  Watching students develop a plan and achieve their goal is one of the most rewarding experiences to witness.  I enjoy working with the students helping them explore post-secondary options.  I value the relationships I have fostered working the wonderful college admissions folks from all kinds of colleges.  You meet some of the most hardest working people in the world and their passion to help students is never ending.  I have made some of my most cherished friends through this position.

What’s your favorite admissions /counseling memory?

That’s a tough one to answer.  I have had so many wonderful memories of students accomplishments.  My very first year I had student who did not get into her first choice school, she was crushed, I tired consoling her and found myself in tears along  with her.  Four years later I happen to be on a greater Pennsylvania college tour and was visiting the school she was a senior.  I ask the admissions folks if it was possible to meet with her and they were able to contact her and she came and had lunch with me. When she arrived she was in a beautiful dark navy suit she looked confident and beaming; she had just presented her Senior thesis for graduation.  She said to me, “Do you remember the day I sat in your office, crying about not getting into my first choice school?”  I said, “Yes I do”.  She smiled and said to me, “ you were right it did work out the way it was supposed to, I cannot imagine having gone to any other school and could not be more happier about my college choice.”   I smiled and said, I am so glad you feel this way.  She now has her PH.D and teaching at a university on the west coast.  I have many more memories and I  cherish and keep them close to my heart.

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

Do not wait! The resources available are limitless and there is always someone willing to help you along the way or guide you in the right direction.  Start small and things will evolve as you feel comfortable.  There are some amazing people who are part of these organizations.  Great networking opportunities with both these organizations.

If not working in admissions/college counseling.  What else could you see yourself pursuing?

I would like to work at a college/university Career Center.

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

I recently have been introduced to country music and I have fallen in love!  I have had the pleasure of seeing several country singers in concert and I am hooked: Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Garth Brook, Trisha Yearwood, Sam Hunt, Little Big Town, Brad Paisley, and I have tickets to see Luke Bryan in June. 

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

Testing!  I think it is wonderful that so many schools are going test optional and taking into consideration a four hour test on a Saturday morning will not measure a student’s potential success in college.  It is refreshing to see schools put more value on demonstrated work in the classroom than a test.  Don’t get me wrong there is value in both the SAT/ACT but for some students is not an an accurate measure of performance to be admitted to a college.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reply before May 1

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, 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). Thanks to Jake Talmage, Director of College Counseling at St. Paul’s School and PCACAC AP Committee Chair, for this month’s case. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

March Case: A student has come to see her counselor first thing in the morning. Visibly upset, the student says, “Mrs. D, I don’t know what to do. I just received this letter from the honors program at OutofState U. They say that I have to deposit by March 15 to keep the scholarship. But, I have not heard from my other colleges. What should I do?” The student passes the letter to the counselor, and the letter does say, “To guarantee your scholarship, please send your refundable deposit by March 15.”

Is this situation compliant with NACAC’s SPGP?

Discussion:  One of the most common violations of NACAC’s SPGP relates to colleges not adhering to the May 1 Common Reply date.  Even if the deposit is “refundable,” asking for an early deposit is considered a violation of SPGP 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.”

As Lou Hirsh, National AP Chair, recently wrote, “One thing we are trying to impress upon colleges is that, apart from Early Decision, the only deposit/confirmation deadline that a college may cite is ‘May 1.’ That means that none of the following statements is acceptable:

Congratulations on being awarded our Presidential Scholarship. Presidential Scholars have until March 15 to return the enclosed form to let us know that they are accepting their award. Tuition deposits must be submitted no later than May 1. 
Congratulations on your Presidential Scholarship. To accept their award, Presidential Scholars must submit a tuition deposit no later than March 15. Deposits are refundable if students cancel their admission by May 1.
Congratulations on your admission. We would appreciate your submitting a deposit within 30 days of the receipt of this letter, but no later than May 1.

What is acceptable is a statement like this: "Since there are other students to whom we will offer this award if you decide to decline it, we would appreciate hearing from you as soon as you have made your decision but no later than May 1."

What still remains a "grey" area is housing. When a college cannot house all of its first-year students, we must grudgingly acknowledge that they may need to assign housing on a first-come, first-served basis (which, of course, benefits early depositors) or set a housing deposit deadline that falls before May 1.

On the other hand, when schools have sufficient housing and -- especially -- when schools have a policy of requiring first-year students to live on campus, then these early deadlines seem to have only one purpose, and that is to manipulate students into depositing before May 1.”

Conclusion: What should Mrs. D do? In the short term, she or the student might want to call the college to ask for an extension.  If the honors program at OutofState U does not offer the extension, they could try talking to the admission office. In reality, that may or may not work. Furthermore, because the college might be outside of her ACAC region, she should also complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. The counselor’s and the student’s name and school will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue in order to help the college work fairly with all students.  

Want to review previous case studies?
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Profile: Judy Hingle

Judy Hingle
College Access Fairfax (VA)

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

After many years as a mortgage loan office, I needed a change of direction into a better personal fit.  My ambition was to find a job that I would be happy to volunteer for.  A friend asked if I had ever considered school counseling, since I was an active volunteer in the schools.  I began the school counseling MEd program at Virginia Tech and worked as a sub in the local schools to gain both academic and on the job experience. As a part of a career counseling course, I interviewed a Career Center Specialist at Mount Vernon HS and discovered my focus - post secondary counseling.  After completing my degree program, I elected to job share in that same Career Center rather than take a school counselor position.  The pay was less, but the fit for me was better.  In eight years at MVHS, I had the opportunity to work with a wonderfully wide variety of students and learned something new every day.  Student goals ranged from being a first generation ESL high school graduate to continuing family traditions of highly selective college graduation.

After eight years in Fairfax County Public Schools, I was intrigued by an opening at NACAC in their Professional Development department. I applied on a whim, and ended up with the fantastic opportunity to work with college admission professionals from around the globe to provide the college admission training and resources for their unique environments.  As Director of Professional Development, I was fortunate to learn from professional association staff and fantastic volunteers about college opportunities for students in a much broader context.

Once again, a friend played a role in career change for me, when she encouraged me to apply for the position of Career Connections Specialist at the central office for Fairfax County Public Schools.  My school counseling degree, school experience and NACAC background all came together to prepare me to act as the training and resource specialist for K-12 school counseling professionals in this large public school district.  

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

I've always been a planner, looking forward to the next step, the next possibility.  Working with the college process, including all post secondary destinations, matches my future focus.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

I have a distinct memory of a a presentation to Juniors in a "regular" high school English class. When I talked about the many paths to college and all the colleges that accept and support those "regular" students, once student looked up at me and asked, "There's a place for me?"  That student turned a mediocre transcript into a upward trending documentation of determination, started at community college and eventually completed a Bachelor's degree.  

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

It's important to realize how much this group learns from each other.  This is an ever-evolving profession and no one has all the answers all the time.  Be open to learning and sharing from everyone you meet.

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

Is there a professional reading position available?  I love to gather new information and experiences from the thoughts and words of other people.

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

My wedding anniversary is April Fools Day.  We've been discussing who was the bigger fool for 44 years.

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

There are two areas I've chosen to continue working with in retirement - financial aid and professionalism in college counseling.  I work with a local organization, College Access Fairfax, to provide FAFSA completion support for families and early awareness for about paying for college for middle school parents. Paying for college has become a perceived deterrent  for many families.  Offering updated information and advocacy for for affordability is vital to the future plans of most students.

I am also a commissioner for the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners, a non-profit group that offers certification for public and private school counselors and independent educational consultants in the areas of college, schools, and other special needs alternatives. Our profession should have standards that expect all of us to demonstrate extensive knowledge, expertise and experience in the field of educational planning. Our students and families deserve no less.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Feb 2016 Advocacy Day - NACAC on the Hill

It's hard to believe that all it takes is a simple email to request a meeting with our Senators and Congressional Representatives. One email saying "we would like to meet" and our leaders make every effort to make sure their constituents are heard. Now that's what I call government. 

Members of PCACAC's Government Relations Committee scheduled meetings with several federal lawmakers from MD and VA on Monday, February 29th after the NACAC legislative conference. 

Our agenda was simple: advocate for the guidance counselors and admissions officers that make up our profession and ensure that college bound students have the resources they need to transition smoothly into an institution of higher learning. Our first meeting of the day was with staffers from the offices of Senators Cardin and Mikulski. The day went very well and the legislative aides we met with were receptive and provided us a lot of useful information regarding the current status of the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, one of the preeminent laws that governs higher education spending. Information packets that contained various information about positions NACAC has taken on education issues, the student-to-counselor ratio by state, and legislation--both past and present--that NACAC supported were distributed. 

All-in-all, we left feeling very accomplished and pleased with the staffers we worked with for the day, a few of which met with us last year as well. We did extend an invitation to all of the offices we met with to come to one of the NACAC fairs being held in and around the DC metro area so they could get a small taste of what NACAC does and is all about. 

What was really defining about our advocacy day on Capital Hill was how attentive the legislators offices were and how easy it was to schedule meetings with them. What I want people to take away from PCACAC's experience on the Hill is that "We the People" actually have a voice, we just need to know what we want to say and not be afraid to march on up to our legislators and say it. We did, in fact, put them in office, right?

- Submitted by Samuel Shoge, Assistant Director of Admissions, Washington College (MD)

Profile: Ginger Miller

Ginger Miller
Associate Director of College Counseling
Landon School

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

Ten years as College Counselor

I always thought I would be a psychologist because I love people and trying to understand how they think. I majored in American Studies and minored in Psychology in college and earned an M.Ed. in Counseling and School Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. College counseling seemed a good fit.  

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

As an English and AP US History teacher, I always wrote recommendations. Also in my early teaching years, I worked on admissions committees at Choate Rosemary Hall and at Noble and Greenough School. Later I served as Associate Director of Admissions for The Langley School in McLean, Virginia where we also had to find placements for eighth graders heading to high schools. Finding the best matches for students whether coming into a school or going out from a school has always interested me. There are so many wonderful colleges, and I enjoy the process of helping students explore their options.   

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

At a NACAC meeting I ended up in the elevator not once but twice with a prominent director of admissions from a prominent university, and it just happened to be the first choice of a qualified student who had a very complicated home life. I decided on the second time to share this student’s story. The director told me to email him and admitted this student who has remained in touch with me while I college. He has now asked me to help with his PPE application. I take students’ stories one at a time and try to see where I can help. When they come back and let me know that the college placement has served them well for life, I add these stories to my favorite memories.

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

Get involved now because life is short. Getting involved is the best way to remain aware of trends and to have meaningful conversations about significant issues in our field. Currently, I serve on the PCACAC Affiliate to NACAC for Government Relations. The people with whom I serve are some of the best in the field. I continue to serve my college, Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts) as a class office and member of its alumni council because I am grateful for the strong liberal arts education I received there. (Recently, I checked, and Wheaton was tied for ninth among liberal arts colleges with the most Fulbright Scholars and one of the most successful colleges in the country naming Rhodes Scholars). I think it is important to try to make a difference in the world.     

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

I think I would be working to make sure each child has a great start to his education including three meals a day and medical care. Head Start was one of the first places I volunteered, and I was certified in K-8 education in college when I volunteered in a preschool and student taught in third grade.  Or I would be helping to train new young college counselors in the same way I used to supervise teachers in training for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

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

I play competitive tennis with a coed group and also race sailboats. I attended two colleges and one of them called me back about four years ago to give me a Varsity letter for having played two varsity sports, field hockey and tennis because Title IX happened after our time, and only men were awarded varsity letters then. This experience was exciting to think perhaps we had made a difference for women in sports.  

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

I am passionate about reducing the ratio between students and college counselors in public schools.  I attended a public high school and still see that the demands on school counselors include advising students about curriculum, psychological counseling, and college counseling. I think public high school counselors deserve professional days for training and the opportunity to visit colleges. They also need better definitions to their jobs so they have more time with students in a complex, constantly changing college landscape.