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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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Admissions #10yearchallenge

Greetings from South Dakota! A recent trend on Facebook was the #10yearchallenge where you post a picture of yourself today alongside a picture of yourself from ten years ago…or maybe some could do 20 years ago or more. It’s a fun opportunity to take a few minutes to reminisce and reflect upon certain chapters in your life and think about where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you’ve been able to experience, challenging times, good times, and so on and so forth.

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Admissions Gift Guide

Has anyone else noticed that there is a gift guide for everything now? They’re all over social media this time of year! Gift guides for him, gift guides for her, gift guides for teens, for moms, for dogs; I’ve even seen gift guides based on the different enneagram types. So I figured it was time someone made a gift guide for admission representatives. Here’s my 2021 holiday admissions gift guide: 

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Grit!

FRIENDS! I don’t think I have ever been more thankful than I am this year, heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. We are all here. Like, literally AT WORK, physically.  I know it took some adjustment(s) but let’s be thankful! When I sit back and ponder on the year (which who has time to actually do that in the hustle and bustle of recruiting season), I am in awe of my colleagues, friends, family, our students and my co-workers. We did it, not always gracefully, but we did it. We’re back to a new “normal” and I really feel grateful. 

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Post-Season Travel Adjustments

Where to start? What to do? Your mind is probably needing a break from the consecutive days on the road mixed with the busy visit days happening back on campus. As the weather is cooling off, it’s likely your travel schedule is, too. If you’re a seasoned road warrior, you know this transition all too well. If you’re newer to the road, you may feel a little discombobulated. Start with a deep breath. What we set out to complete amidst the chaos of travel season may not always materialize. You may realize that you didn’t email every student you spoke with at a high school visit or college fair this fall. You might have missed a congratulations text to a new commit or a next steps call to a new prospect. As you turn in your rental keys, fill out your final reimbursement forms and unpack your travel bags, here are a few tips to help with your transition back to the office.

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Changes of Scenery

Promotions/new positions, new team members and bidding farewell - check out the Changes of Scenery in some of our member offices. Do you have big news to share? Major changes in your offices in the past few months – new colleagues, promotions, weddings, babies, etc. – let us know and we'll share the news with your Iowa ACAC colleagues!

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Lessons Learned Since March '20 – Part 2

In January I compiled a list of lessons learned since the start of the pandemic for SCENES. Lessons such as buying TP and Clorox wipes anytime you had the chance, and the most flattering angle for video calls. At the time, I think we all were hoping we were wrapping up the pandemic.

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6 Tips to Healthier Eating Habits on the Road or in the Office

Everyone’s clothing shrunk during the pandemic, right?

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Back to School

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting this summer as I prepare to leave my current position as an Admission Counselor at the University of Iowa. A little background: as an undergraduate, I worked in the Office of Admissions in two student positions and absolutely adored it. So much so that I began considering a year or two in admissions post-graduation. Driven by my desire to return to admissions and a feeling of uncertainty as I navigated student teaching, I accepted a temporary counselor position following graduation and a full-time position six months later. I knew my time as a counselor would either be short-term and followed by a return to teaching, or I’d decide to stay in higher education for a good portion of my career. A little over two and half years later, and I’ve made the difficult decision to return to the classroom.

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Community

Believe it or not, I got to hit the road about a month ago and visit some high schools in Northwest Iowa. I always love going to that area of the state; it’s close to home (I grew up in Southwest Minnesota) and it reminds me to slow down. I felt a little rusty actually going into high schools and really talking to people (weird, I know) but it was so fun.

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Simple Steps to Assist First Gen Students

“Go to the FAFSA website and create your FSA ID. You will need to use your parent's 2019 tax returns which you can link to your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  Once we receive your FAFSA, we can tell you how many loans and grants you qualify for based on your EFC. You might get selected for verification. You will be notified if you are selected, and additional documentation will need to be completed. Login to TritonPass and accept your financial aid package under the ‘Academic Profile’ tab. You will then be prompted to complete Entrance Counseling. We recommended only borrowing what you need, and suggest avoiding the unsubsidized loan if possible because that accrues interest while you are attending college. Do you have any questions? Great! Call us if you need help with anything.”

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Zooming into Spring Freshmen Recruitment

“Can everyone hear me?” “Nope, go ahead!” “You’re muted!” are just a few statements that have been uttered in the countless Zoom meetings we’ve all endured for almost a year.

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