May 1st: It's Coming

May 1st marks a pretty big day for students all over (at least in the media, since, you know, May 1st is now a pretty flexible date), but Decision Day still carries a lot of hype. If we think about it in media terms, this is the date when prospective students choose the institution that will help to shape the rest of their lives.

And so, it’s a bit ironic that May 1st plays a pretty big role in my life as well when it comes to the realm of enrollment management.

For the last five (which is crazy to me) years, I’ve spent my time on Capitol Hill working for both the Senate and House as an analyst and program manager, respectively, in the area of emergency preparedness and continuity. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with super smart people who have shaped my professional career and personal life. I’ve found great mentors and made many friends. I've also learned a lot professionally, and while my next stop isn’t in the emergency preparedness space, there are definite lessons and skills that I’ll carry forward with me.

But, it’s no secret that my passion centers around enrollment management and higher education in general. If you’re reading this and you didn’t know that, surprise!

While my actual “decision day” was about six weeks ago, May 1st marks my first day with Technolutions. I will be leaving my super-beloved Maryland behind for currently snowier pastures in Connecticut. I’m blessed to have a wife who supports all my endeavors, even though it means leaving almost all of our family (and almost all of our friends) five hours away...and selling and buying homes when she’s five months pregnant. I’m also blessed to have a son who can’t really tell me he doesn’t want to move quite yet…and another on the way who will call Connecticut his first home.

Relationships have always been at the core of all decisions I’ve made in my professional and personal lives and I’m thrilled to be able to work with a company that operates in the same way. To put this opportunity in one word, it’s exhilarating.  

When considering relationships, I’d absolutely be amiss if I didn’t credit this opportunity to #EMchat. Whether it’s the knowledge I’ve gained through this community, the professional connections I’ve been able to make, or the personal relationships that have grown from those connections; this community is extraordinary and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it for almost four years now. Thanks to everyone who makes it a possibility and continues to grow the community.

With that said, I’m now in a whole new area which means so many more opportunities for meetings in real life! Give me a shout if you’re in the area, and while Scott Cline would probably say that I’m really unreliable when it comes to making coffees, lunches, or happy hours happen, I’m really trying to be better about it! I promise, I’m real.

See you soon, higher ed!

Alex

Tell Me About Yourself

In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.

The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.

From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.

I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.

I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."

I can't wait to do it again.

#EMchat and #FreeCommunityCollege Transcript!

What a great chat last night! Check out the transcript below. All of our #EMchat transcripts can be found in our archives -- lots to learn. Thanks to our contributors this week, Ben Kohl, John McGreal, and Yolanda Norman! 

Resolution: Get a Mentor. Be a Mentor.

In keeping with the resolution theme, today’s post is focused on the value of mentors. I’ve made it a point to identify people (formally and informally) in all areas of my life who can help guide me to become the person I aspire to be. I regularly ping them for advice, grab a coffee or lunch, and gauge their collective responses to opportunities and challenges that pop up in my life, melding suggestions into options that work best for me. Through #EMchat, I’ve met a number of colleagues who have provided serious advice and have been instrumental in the decisions that I have made in my career.

mentorTo me, networking and collaborating with colleagues is the best part of the #EMchat community. And that’s why we’re looking to connect individuals on a greater level as we move into 2015. Over the next few months, we’ll be working on formally defining the online mentorship role that we know EMchat is already providing behind the scenes for so many. We’ve got some great ideas spinning and as always, we're open to your ideas as well!

Maybe you don’t need a mentor you can talk to every day. Maybe you’re just looking for advice on one particular topic or experience. Maybe you’ve had a fantastic career or just went through a super successful implementation of a CRM and have some tips to share. Maybe you just want to give back. Our goal is simply to create the pool and let the community take it from there.

Whatever the case, be on the lookout for updates and let us know your thoughts on the value you’d find in this!

#ProDev and Predictive Modeling

We’ve had some great discussions centered around professional development this year; most recently, our chat with NACAC on prodev opportunities and career paths for admission officers. I think it’s also safe to say that #EMchat itself is professional development, whether it’s an article shared, a question answered, or an opportunity to network with colleagues from across the US.

Make a resolution this year to make professional development a bigger part of your life. And remember, some of the best prodev experiences are free.

A while back, we collaborated with the team at Rapid Insight to discuss predictive modeling—and a huge thanks to them for making it possible as a webinar! That chat was a great one, but the RI team has taken it one step (20 steps, actually) further. They’ve created a 20 part video training series for individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of predictive modeling. I've taken a look at a number of the trainings and have found them to be straight-forward and relatable, something that’s important for me in a world that is oftentimes exactly the opposite. They're short videos (and some hands-on training, which is awesome) and absolutely worth taking a few minutes out of your day here or there to give your brain a data boost.

We all know that college admission is competitive for students, but as we continue to move in a direction that requires EM'ers to put a greater focus on data, jobs in the field will become increasingly competitive for professionals. Here’s an opportunity to give yourself a free leg-up and expand your own knowledge.

Caitlin Garrett does a much better job of explaining the training series in her recent post. Check it out and get your prodev on to kick off the New Year!