Wednesday, May 24, 2017

President's Final Message for 2016-17!

Dear friends and colleagues,

We made it to graduation season! Given the bizarre craziness of this year, I'm sure many of us were wondering if we would make it to the finish line in one piece. I know I had a quite a few moments when I questioned that! Yet, here we are - another year in the books, with our seniors graduating and another freshman class ready to arrive soon. The circle of life in college admission continues...

...and so it does in PCACAC as well. Just as we finished up our 52nd Annual Conference a month ago, we dove straight into planning for the next year. were at the conference, right? If you weren't, you missed a great one. We had a fantastic slate of dynamic sessions, one of the best line-ups I've seen, including many new topics and new approaches to perennial issues. I want to thank everyone involved with putting on such an outstanding conference, including Rosemary Martin (Conference Planning Chair), Robyn Lady (President-Elect and Sessions Chair), and Annie Hilten (PCACAC's devoted and hard-working Executive Assistant). With the conference behind us, we're already getting ready for our Summer Institute this July at Roanoke College. And save the date for next year's Annual Conference in Dover, Delaware!

We also elected new officers at the Conference. Please join me in congratulating our new PCACAC leaders:
  • President-Elect: Jake Talmage, St. Paul's School for Boys (MD)
  • Secretary: Heather Jeter, The Steward School (VA)
  • Delegate and Government Relations Chair: Ginger Miller, Landon School (MD)
  • Delegate and Professional Development Chair: Rebekah LaPlante, Virginia Tech (VA)
  • Delegate (at large): Sanjay Mitchell, Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS (DC)

Finally, as my last few weeks as President of PCACAC wind down, allow me a moment to express my gratitude and thanks to all of you. It has been an honor and privilege for me to serve as President this year for an organization that has meant so much to me for nearly 20 years. I've greatly enjoyed working closely with so many of you, and I look forward to continuing to do so as I transition to the role of Past President. Not only am I finishing my stint as President of PCACAC, but I am also leaving my home of 16 years at Randolph-Macon College for a new position as Co-Director of College Counseling at St. Catherine's School in Richmond. I appreciate the support of my friends and colleagues at R-MC; while I'll miss them greatly, I look forward to an exciting new chapter to begin this summer.

Again, thank you for all that you have done to support me this past year and for all that you do for PCACAC every year. Have a wonderful summer!

Anthony Ambrogi
President, Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling
Director of Admissions and Enrollment Research, Randolph-Macon College

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Check out this week's PCACAC Member Spotlight on Mollyemma Teague!

Mollyemma Teague is an admission counselor and the alumnae admission engagement liaison at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!
I was lucky enough to be employed as a student worker in our Office of Admission while I was an undergraduate student at Hollins, which gave me a taste for the work we do and the impact we can have on the lives of high school students. While in college, I worked as the Assistant Residential Director of Duke Youth Programs, and learned that I had a passion for youth development. While I had this passion for youth development, it didn’t necessarily translate in passion to residential experiences. I was more interested in learning the stories of our students, what inspired them educationally, and what their goals were academically. This made for an easy transition into the field of admissions work.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory or travel story?
It’s so hard to choose just one! One of my favorite experiences was participating in the 2016 Memphis Case Studies. Getting to work with high school counselors, admission counselors from other universities, and current high school students to assess applications was a really eye opening experience for me. I love learning about the processes of other universities, and what students are focusing on as they go through the college search process.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Don’t be afraid to dive in head first! When I first began my professional development journey, I truly just raised my hand and offered to help wherever I was needed. I made my intentions and desires to be involved known to my director as well as other counselors that I have professional relationships with so that as opportunities arose that were good fits for me, I had people who could advocate for me and help get me connected.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 
I have always loved poetry and writing. I could see myself being an English professor, but it would not carry the same weight and reward for me as working in admissions or college counseling. I have definitely found my niche!

What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I am classically trained in both piano and cello, having played both instruments for over 15 years.

How do you balance work/life?
I am dedicated to self-care on the mental, physical, and emotional levels. I know I do my best when I feel my best, and that includes spending time with family, nature, and live music! I make sure to work efficiently when I’m in the office to stay on top of, if not ahead of, my to do list so I can truly relax during time off.

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
I am really interested in public charter college preparatory schools. I’ve recently had some really exciting conversations with college readiness advisors at public charter schools in major urban areas about the ways they promote college readiness to their students starting as early as 9th grade. As someone who spends a good two thirds of her year reading applications, I am always interested to learn how students prepare to put their best foot forward.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the admissions/college counseling profession?

Be willing to be a yes person. Say yes to opportunities in professional development, say yes to small task requests like tours or birthday cards, and say yes to learning new things. The more you learn, the higher the quality of your work and interactions, and the better you can serve your students and work efficiently as part of a team. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

14th Annual Summer Institute Registration Is Now Open!

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to announce the opening of registration for PCACAC's 14th Annual Summer Institute at Roanoke College in Salem, VA.  The two-day Summer Institute, July 17-18, 2017, is intended for new and veteran college admission and counseling professionals, with a lineup of sessions that will be of interest to both sides of the desk.  Optional college tours of Hollins University, Radford University, and Virginia Tech are planned for the afternoon of July 19th, following the Institute.  Download the Registration and Fees document for more information and for the link to the online registration form. Space is limited to 100 participants so register today!

We look forward to seeing you there!
General Information:  Alice Robertson and Kate Perry, Summer Institute Chairs, and
Professional Development Chair:  Rebekah LaPlante,
College Tours:  Chris Boehm, College Tours Coordinator,
Registration & Lodging:  Annie Hilten, PCACAC Executive Assistant, info@pcacac.org434-989-7557

Monday, May 15, 2017

Admission Practices - May Case Study

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). If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

May Case:  May 1 has come and gone. The Dean of Admissions at Summersnotquitehere U is feeling a little down. Although numbers had been tracking well throughout the month, the final push of deposits did not materialize over the weekend. Now, the class is short by 100 students. Luckily there is a vibrant number of students who accepted spots on the wait list whom the Dean can invite to join the university.  However, this is the first year SU has offered a wait list, so proceeding is unchartered territory.

The Dean has instructed the staff to review students who have remained on the wait list based on university needs-they would like to shape the class with some more liberal arts students, men and/or students who would increase geographic diversity. The staff has identified several hundred students who might make sense. However, because the university has limited beds and classroom space, they do not want to over-enroll. But, as the month progresses, the Dean is aware students will be less likely to accept their wait list offer. The Dean wants to proceed ethically, but also wants to fill the class.

What can the Dean do? How does SPGP guide the Dean?

Discussion: Wait lists have become an increasingly used tool for enrollment management. Not only do they allow colleges to fill their class, but also to shape the class.  There are several important SPGP issues that should be considered as colleges implement a waitlist:
Mandatory II B 6 states "All post secondary members agree that they will establish wait list procedures that ensure that no student on any wait list is asked for a deposit to remain on the wait list or for a commitment to enroll prior to receiving an official written offer of admission. Written notification may include mail or electronic communications."  Furthermore, according to the Interpretations section of II B 6 a, "By placing a student on the wait list, an institution does not initially offer or deny admission, but extends to the candidate the possibility of admission not later than August 1."

Furthermore, according to SPGP Mandatory Practice II B 2, "All post secondary members agree that they will not ask candidates, their schools, their counselors or others to list or rank order their college or university preferences on applications or other documents." And according to the Interpretations section for II B 2, "Postsecondary members can assess their candidates' level of interest, but not by asking them to indicate a first choice or to rank order or name their other college choices; students are considered "candidates" until they have officially confirmed their intention to enroll, usually by submitting an enrollment or tuition deposit, or have declined their offer of admission, or have had their offer of admission canceled."

Finally, SPGP Best Practices II B 2 reads, "All postsecondary members should allow students a reasonable amount of time (at least 72 hours or May 1, whichever is later) to respond to an offer of admission from that institution's wait list and gain admission to that institution's incoming class. This offer of admission should be a written or electronic communication to the student. Postsecondary institutions should also strive to fully inform wait list students of their financial aid and housing opportunities, if different from their normal policies. Postsecondary institutions should not require a commitment from a student until the financial aid award and housing options, if any, have been provided."

Conclusion: So, what does all this mean? According to the Mandatory Practices, the Dean at SU may contact the potential "candidates" on the wait list to make sure they are, in fact, still interested. Even though after May 1, these students are still candidates if they accepted a spot on the wait list.  This contact may be by phone, e-mail or another way. For instance, the office could call a student and ask, "Are you still interested in SU?" However, the admissions officers may not ask if SU is the student's top choice.

Although the admission office can call a student to inform of admission, a formal, written offer needs to be made. According to Mandatory Practice II B 8, "Postsecondary members will notify accepted aid applicants of financial aid decisions before the enrollment confirmation deadline, assuming all requested application forms are received on time;" therefore, the university will need to provide any applicable financial aid information before requiring a deposit from the student. This information is reinforced in the Best Practice which also suggests that the university give students at least 72 hours to formally accept an offer of admission. 

Finally, any movement off the waitlist should conclude by August 1 and the university should formally notify students when it has completed its process.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP Committee. This committee will follow up on the issue. 
Want to review previous case studies? 
View all the Admissions Practices Case Studies on The Anchor here.
Want to submit a case for consideration? Please e-mail the PCACAC AP Committee Chair at

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Check Out This Week's Member Spotlight!

Gerard Jeremy Hart currently works at St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, MD.  Among his many duties, he is a college counselor, he teaches two sections of International Baccalaureate (IB) history, advises the Model UN club, manages an advisory, and coaches football, basketball, and lacrosse. 

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!
I just happened into the college counseling world by a bit of good luck.  I met the St. Paul’s School Upper School Head at a hiring fair while looking for a teaching job.  The Head thought that college counseling fit a number of aspects of my career goals then connected me to Jake Talmage.  Despite originally not even thinking about pursuing college counseling jobs, Jake’s passion for the whole process and the way he talked about the role counselors can have in student’s lives really touched on some of my biggest passions.  Long story short, I’ve been hooked on college counseling ever since.

What do you love most about your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know students in so many different arenas and then getting to help them find their next home to continue their education.  In particular, I can think of one student that I coached, taught, and college counseled.  Knowing him as a student, as an athlete, and as a young man, I felt like I could significantly better advise him in the college process.  I knew that he wouldn’t do well in large lecture halls, but also knew he wanted to follow his passion for lacrosse.  While he was enamored with the large, selective, and very talented lacrosse school, helping him investigate new universities and counseling his process over the course of his junior and senior years was really enjoyable.  Ultimately, having this student receive an offer of admission to his newly discovered number one school (and have a chance to play there too) made all the late night worried e-mails from his parents, random and frequent hallway questions, and time spent helping with applications entirely worth it.

How do you balance work/life?
As many of us in the college counseling and admissions world know, there are so many commitments beyond the typical 9am-5pm workday and making sure to reserve time for your personal life is really important.  On a daily basis, I make sure I keep the first hour and a half after my daily commitments end free of checking e-mails and to just catch my breath.  In terms of the longer term, I keep a small planner on me at all times to keep a clear schedule of both my professional and personal commitments in order.  If I start to notice the work commitments piling up, I make sure to schedule some free time (as ironic as that sounds) or block off time to watch my football teams on weekends in the fall to tip the scales back during counseling and recommendations season.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the admissions/college counseling profession?
The biggest piece of advice I would give to someone considering entering the admissions/ college counseling profession would be to realize the entire business is not a black-and-white world. Some people on the outside might think admissions as a binary process- you’re accepted or denied- but there are so many levels.  Whether it’s certain schools placing more emphasis on certain attributes or others holding a firm line of test scores and GPA or even a hundred point holistic review, learning the landscape from school to school takes time.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.  So piece of advice two, take advantage of colleagues in the field.  No matter the side of the process they might be on, we’re ultimately all in it together.

Monday, May 1, 2017

This week's Member Spotlight is on Fatmata Koroma

Fatmata Koroma works at the University of Pittsburgh as an Enrollment Service Manager, and serves as the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia Regional Recruiter.

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!
My admissions counselor at the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 was Robert Wilson. Rob made my decision to go to Pitt a no brainer because of his attention, kindness and guidance. Though, I cannot remember everything that Rob said to assist me through my college search process, I can certainly tell you that he made sure I felt appreciated, understood, and empowered throughout the journey. I was fortunate to grow and learn through my experience, and I believed that if I could give an ounce of that knowledge back to the students who followed after me, I would feel fulfilled. So when the opportunity presented itself to introduce students in my hometown in Maryland to Pitt, and assist them in navigating the college search process, I could not pass it up! As a salute to all those that helped me along the way, it is my mission to leave the “Rob effect” wherever I go, ensuring my students and families feel appreciated, understood, and empowered throughout their admissions process.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory or travel story?
As a regional recruiter, I am not always able to be a part of my students’ experiences on campus. However, I remember attending one of my first spring open houses for admitted students on campus. The energy was electrifying! I interacted with students I met previously during fall high school visits, and I was introduced to the parents and support systems of the familiar faces I had helped along the way. One memory that truly stands out to me, was when I gave one of my students their admissions decision on the balcony of our Ballroom. You could hear our cheers echo throughout the halls of the ballroom as I told Rebecca she was admitted to Pitt! It was so special to see her journey come full circle, from interest, to inquiry, and finally, to admission. Before leaving Pitt that day, Rebecca submitted her tuition deposit, and I was able to welcome the newest member of the Pitt family with a huge Panther hug!

What do you love most about your job?
I love that what I do for a living allows students to feel confident in their academic pursuits. I love that I get to meet new creative and talented students each year, and introduce them to a world of possibilities. I feel that I have an opportunity to help students make one of the biggest decisions of their young adult lives. I take that responsibility very seriously, using my engagement with each student as a chance to relieve their stress, motivate them to take charge of the admissions process, and equip them with the tools to help them find the best fit college or next step. Empowering students has been the most rewarding part of my role. Working for my beloved alma mater, that is truly the icing on the cake!

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
If you are interested in building a career in higher education and being a great steward to your students and families, I believe it is important to understand their concerns. PCACAC has helped me understand what my students are experiencing– what’s causing them anxiety, stress, or fear. The wonderful thing about membership in PCACAC and NACAC is the open and honest dialogue between college admissions counselors and school counselors. Through these discussions, we are able to develop an understanding of challenges, trends, and weaknesses in the admissions system. By realizing these factors, I am able to better serve my students, presenting thoughtful information at the right time, to the correct audiences. Furthermore, these discussions allow us to develop actionable solutions as a group, both on the high school and college sides.

How do you balance work/life?

After completing an entire admissions cycle, I have learned that the regional recruiter position requires long days and weeks during certain times of the year. There is a fine line between work and personal life balance when any room with Wi-Fi connectivity can become your office as a recruiter on the road. So, it has been beneficial for me to incorporate time to decompress and regroup during, and between, my travel. Replacing a radio station with an inspiring lecture to keep me going, filing away thank you notes from families to read during tough weeks, finding local green spaces to visit when I am in new areas, or making time on a free weekend to work on an art project are all ways that I have been able to unwind. Making time for myself allows me to show up and give my 110% to every family that I meet. Seeking guidance from seasoned recruiters and caring counselors has also been a huge help. Self-care is not something I have perfected, however, I am steadily getting closer and closer to a comfortable work life balance with these helpful adjustments in my routine.