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 - #ProDev for EM and School Counseling Pros

The role of #EMchat--since the beginning--has been to provide a structured platform to discuss hot topics in higher education enrollment management. While each  moderator has their (our) own opinions, we try to guide a conversation that is open to all sides of the topic. I'd like to think that we were successful in facilitating that last night.

Heated debates are fantastic. Twitter is a sounding board for professionals who are truly passionate about their careers and industry. #EMchat, #SAchat, #FAchat, #SCcrowd, #SCchat, #HESM -- These are all communities where you see thought leaders even more. And typically, you also see more divisive opinions. That's the world of education. That's how it is.

But here's what I took away from the chat last night. NO ONE is serving students or setting a positive example for young professionals when we place blame on a whole sector of an industry (both sides)  instead of collaboratively working toward a goal.

You typically see conversations centered around professionalism and identity more in the #SAchat realm. We've never had an actual #EMchat on it. I like a debate. In fact, I love a debate. I work on Capitol Hill. What I don't like is name calling, generalizations about professionals (or anyone, really), or diminishing the role of someone--or group of people--with sweeping, juvenile statements. BOTH sides were guilty of this last night. Some people handled it well and some didn't.

Basically, that's not what #EMchat is about. We facilitate. We network. We learn from one another. I took away some great points from the chat last night, and I think there are topics that can definitely be expanded on in future chats. But I also took away a sick feeling that I somehow contributed to promulgating a highly negative conversation between two professional career tracks that I greatly value.

I'm sure we'll see more #SCcrowd and #SCchat chats on professional development opportunities for school counselors. We're discussing the EM career path with NACAC directly in December. I encourage everyone to check it out.

Here's a little background on the High School Counselor Challenge:

https://twitter.com/AlexMWilliams_/status/530540564417363968

And here's the link for the transcript!

-Alex