First things first — if you’ve landed your first job in recruitment and admissions, congratulations! You’ve got an incredibly rewarding career ahead of you.
As your first-day jitters start, you’ll probably have a million questions running through your head. If you’re a little unsure of what to expect, you’re not alone. Most people never ‘plan’ on working in this field; they stumble upon it and land in the same boat you’re in, anxiously awaiting guidance.
That’s why we’ve curated some tips for new admissions folks like yourself!
Here are some words of wisdom based on our own industry knowledge, research, and submissions from seasoned admissions professionals:
Be ready to learn a lot
According to a 2014 report by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling,
“You’ll constantly acquire new skills and master new disciplines. You might be responsible for overseeing marketing and social media campaigns, conducting statistical analyses, and learning and applying new technologies — along with continuing to build trust and develop relationships with prospective students, their parents, high school counselors and the broader education community.”
“Someone else's experiences may not make sense to you, but it meant something to the writer. Try to see themselves from their point-of-view.”
Meredith Richardson, Case Western Reserve University
Ask lots of questions
Ask questions of the people you work with to learn more about their experience, but more so ask questions of applicants to learn more about what they're hoping to hear. Don't just sell your program.
Prospective candidates are comparing your program to others, so they can be a wealth of information on what's important and what you need to be communicating.
Use your power wisely
“You can learn the statistics and standards, but through it all remember that you hold someone's future in your hands. Treat it with respect and care.”
Mary Theresa Taglang, Director of Recruitment and Admission, Lehigh University
“Admission professionals should constantly challenge themselves to move from good to great, to take risks and to ask the big questions that lead to innovation. By doing this, I believe you become a leader rather than a follower in best practices.”
Sundar Kumarasamy, VP for Enrollment Management (2014 NACAC Report)
Learn as much as you can from observing others. Sitting in admissions meetings, paired file reading, co-interviewing are all great ways to see how the seasoned pros do it. Before you know it, you'll be one too!
“It is so easy to burn out in your first couple of years in recruiting. I definitely did! Travel and long hours can be hard on your body and on your mind. I found a few good work out/yoga routines that I could do in my hotel room were helpful in keeping a routine and keeping me active.”
Joining a regional admissions association is a great way to make connections with others in the field, and attending conferences can aid in your professional development. If you want to get a sense of all the organizations and the events they offer, check out the 2019 conference landscape.
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to learn is by talking to someone who’s been in your shoes. When you’re starting out, find someone that you can discuss aspirations and concerns with and receive guidance from. Don’t worry about ‘taking up’ their time.
Studies show that mentorships actually provides mutual benefits to you (the mentee) and your mentor. Find the details in this article by the Harvard Business Review.
Be open to (but not pressured into) advancement
The statement, “You have to move out if you want to move up” might some truth according to this report, but remember that a successful career is not necessarily defined by constant advancement. Staying at a certain level in your career is more than okay if you enjoy it.
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