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From the Other Side

"Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart"
Adele really hit me with the feels while I started writing and made it so fitting to share a verse. The other side is almost what we would imagine as recruiters, schedules, emotions, schedules, and future planning. 


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Navigating Gen Z: Insights from Iowa ACAC's Winter ACU

On a wintery Iowa day, I attended the virtual Iowa ACAC Winter session of Admissions Counselor University (ACU). During this session, we covered ethics, territory management, building connections, and communicating with gen z. Toward the end of our meeting, we were joined by a great panel of high school counselors and career advisors who provided insight on best practices when talking with students and visiting schools.

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Connecting with Others on the Road

This month will mark my 12th year in Admissions, and while I love my job and working with students, one of the biggest reasons I’ve stayed in  Admissions is because of the people I’ve been fortunate to work with or alongside. Recently, during one of my Iowa ACAC committee meetings some of my committee members remarked about how different the landscape of admissions travel has become over the years. When we had first joined the profession, connecting with admission reps from other schools for lunch in-between fairs or a social hour after a day of travel was the norm. A few of us reminisced about the good ole days in Shenandoah! These types of stories seem to be fading, and it made us all wonder why?

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We're Ba-ack! Winter Virtual ACU Returns

Has your admissions office recently hired new admissions professionals this semester? Are you looking for a way to refresh your basic knowledge on college admissions, tips for the travel season, or admissions best practices? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you need to keep reading!

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L.E.A.P 2023 - Inspiring Dreams & Empowering Futures

LEAP was back for 2023 and, oh my, was it missed!  After a 3-year hiatus due to Covid and a shortage of bus drivers, it was great to welcome students once again. LEAP is held on a different campus each year and we were grateful to be hosted by Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids.   Our hope is that students get to know what it is like at each campus and learn about what each institution has to offer.

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CCTC: A New Wave of Support for Iowa's Underrepresented High School Students

Over the last three years, the Iowa Department of Education has worked to expand access to professionals who understand the college admissions process for underrepresented students in high schools across Iowa. In the spring of 2021, the department opened up it’s first grant opportunity to allow community colleges and high schools to partner to add College/Career Transition Counselors (CCTC).  Now, 2 ½ years later, there are nearly 50 CCTCs across the state with nearly every community college employing at least one school counselor. By the end of this school year, there are plans to have a CCTC at every community college serving at least one high school. As the network expands, it is important to understand the role of this new person at Iowa high schools and how college admission counselors can partner to increase student enrollment in college.

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Meet the Board: Inclusion, Access, & Success

I want to introduce you to Janine Baeza and myself, Juanita Zavala, Co-Chairs for the Inclusion, Access, and Success committee. Janine is the Associate Director of Freshman Recruitment & Access at the University of Northern Iowa and I am a College and Career Transition Coach (CCTC) at Indian Hills Community College. Our committee works to identify how to better serve and support underrepresented high school students with their post-secondary plans.

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40 Days of Kindness

Is it summer yet? It’s funny how we work all year long for a very short period of time where we all sit anxiously and wait for the numbers to start going up and can’t wait to just rip the band-aid off. 

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Latino Education Summit

Do you work with Latinx students? Or struggle with resources to give them such as scholarships? Or perhaps wonder what terms to use such as Hispanic or Latino/a? Sometimes it can be confusing, especially if working with undocumented or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. 

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Get to Know - Gabriel Hernández Acosta

Ever want to know more about your fellow Iowa ACAC members? Our regular Get to Know You articles are here to help you do just that!  Learn a little about one of our "star" (literally) members, Gabriel Hernández Acosta.

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Visit the Hill 2023

I don’t think I would be too far off in assuming that everyone reading this has a passion for education and cares about the educational well being of the students we work with. An easy way to put that care into action is to learn more about how legislation can affect the accessibility of education for students in Iowa.

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Professional School Counselors: An Urging for Proper Titles

Last week I received a letter in my school mail from a college in Iowa. It was addressed to, “Instructors, guidance counselors, and  administration.” I cringed. Nothing ruffles my feathers more in education than being called a “guidance counselor.”  It is 2022 and the profession of school counseling has been around since the early 1900’s. It has evolved and adapted to modern and current times, yet somehow, the title of guidance counselor has been hard to shake. 

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Observations from Fall Travel

It is the first fall travel season that has been somewhat normal in a couple of years. Or was it? Since my team is wrapping up their fall travel season soon, I asked them to reflect on their experiences. We have a mix of seasoned counselors and new college graduates on our staff, so it has been interesting to see their various experiences when they roll in each Friday. While some of these observations have been happening over time, we have noticed that some are more prevalent now than ever. How does your fall travel compare?

  • Students aren’t sure what they are looking for in a school or what they want to study. This doesn’t seem like a big surprise, right? However, it seems to be paralyzing to some students this year. They don’t even know where to start.
  • Parents are very involved in the process and doing things for the student. Ah, helicopter parenting at its finest! We know parents have been filling out applications in the past, but it seems to be on a whole new level.
  • Students are moving slower in the application process this year and are generally overwhelmed with the thought of college. We have spent the last couple of months trying new strategies for outreach to meet students where they are.
  • There’s always a group of highly motivated students. Even though some students are uncertain about the next steps, you can always count on a group of go-getters to be on top of everything. Thank goodness!
  • Students are more open to learning about schools they have never heard of. Hogwarts? No, Wartburg. (Like we’ve never heard that one before!)
  • College fairs were better this year than last year, but still not as good as they were pre-pandemic. It seems that fewer schools are busing in students, and more schools are having their own fairs. Evening fairs were not as well attended either.
  • Students seem less interested or available to meet with admission counselors at the high school. I feel like we’ve been moving in this direction for a while. Students are taking college courses while in high school and getting practical work experience as a part of their curriculum. Others have already been on campus and feel they don’t need to connect.
  • Some students think they need to decide on a school before applying. How can we all be more transparent and helpful in communicating application options to students?
  • Our school counselor friends are working with more students with mental health challenges than ever. School counselors are juggling so much. How can we assist them with college search resources and take some of their load off? (Please tell us; we all want to help!)
 
Niche just released research conducted with over 20,000 students in their Class of 2023 Fall Senior Survey. 97% of the student responses reported fears about the college search process. It is disheartening to think that so many are nervous about the application process, financial aid, and choosing the best college for them when we all have an admission staff eager to help. As we enter the middle of the admission cycle, I encourage you to think about new ways to reach students, whether it is through their school counselors, parents, virtual events, or simply buying a student a cup of coffee. Students need us now more than ever! Best wishes as you continue to work through this complicated recruitment cycle!

#NACAC2022 c/o Instagram!

The annual NACAC conference was hosted in Houston, TX. I had the pleasure of taking over our Iowa ACAC social media for a few days to bring you highlights of the conference. I’m recapping the trip in case you missed our stories! 

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Wearing Many Hats on Campus: Building Relationships and Earning Trust

In July 2007, Central College thankfully took a chance on one of its young, inexperienced, recent graduates to become a Residence Hall Director. While that may not seem that unordinary, I had not been an RA or worked in Residence Life as a student, so I likely was not the prototypical candidate they may have been looking for. While this was not the job I thought I would end up with out of college, I was thankful to be able to re-join the campus community that had supported me academically, socially, athletically, and spiritually. 

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Iowa Summer Bucket List

As the start of school is approaching, I know it can feel like all the fun summer activities go out the window. And while schedules definitely get busier, remember that we still have a couple months of sweltering heat left in Iowa! There is time to check off those last remaining summer bucket list items. You’re likely going to be spending a lot of time in cars and hotel rooms before you know it, so I recommend enjoying the outdoors while you still can!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I know, there aren’t fireworks, champagne or silly hats and glasses, but it’s just as important for us in education.

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Road Warrior Survival Guide

August is here and school supplies are flying off the shelves. This can only mean one thing: admissions recruitment travel season is right around the corner. Whether you are new to the field or have earned your “road warrior” status years ago, surviving travel season comes much easier with preparation. Here are my tips and tricks learned during 10+ years navigating the rolling hills (interstates, highways, brick, gravel and sometimes even dirt roads) of Iowa behind the wheel of a college-branded car:

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MIDWest Conference 101!

Let’s start counting down the days! In just a few short weeks, we will all be together in person for the 2022 MIDWest ACAC Conference in Eagan, MN! The last time we all had the chance to be together was at the 2019 Iowa ACAC Conference at Prairie Meadows in Altoona. We made the best of things in 2020 with a virtual conference (thanks to our wonderful Past President, Tom Paulsen), and tried again in 2021 with a virtual MIDWest Conference (shout out to the excellent Wisconsin ACAC team for planning), but I know that I have really missed the in-person conference experience for the past two years. With all of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, we’ll have more first-time conference-goers than ever before, so as your current Iowa ACAC Conference Planning Chair, I wanted to share some thoughts and advice to help you make the most of your MIDWest ACAC experience! 

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Making the Connection

A number of years ago, I was very unsure about taking the next step to college. The director of my high school choir at the time was a Wartburg College graduate. He shared his incredible experience and encouraged me to visit. As an uncertain 17-year-old, I called to set up my visit and will never forget the kindness I received on the other end from the visit coordinator. I felt more confident about taking the next step. After my visit, I knew Wartburg was where I would go to college. I applied for a job in admissions during my junior year at Wartburg and developed many relationships that became influential in my career path. I had no idea how much that decision would impact my life. I served as a spiritcaller, Ambassador and eventually spent an entire summer working full-time in the admissions office. Still, when it came time for graduation, I wasn’t sure about the path I wanted to take. As I began looking for a job, it was a connection I had made at Wartburg that led me to Simpson College and a job as an admissions counselor. The people and the experience there solidified my love for higher education. When I had the chance to return to Wartburg Admissions, I knew recruiting for my alma mater was the right decision. Almost twenty years later, I find myself wondering where the years have gone!

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