#EMchat & #SCcrowd Take on #ReachHigher!

We’re excited to continue to bridge the divide during this week’s #EMchat—and what better week to do it than during #NACAC14! We’re teaming up with the #SCcrowd (School Counselor Crowdsourcing) group for a dual Q&A chat. School counselors from all over have been prepping questions to ask EM pros about the admissions process, financial aid, and higher ed in general. AND, this is the perfect opportunity for EM’ers to do the same (just in the opposite direction).

We’ll be prepping a few questions for the chat, but from the looks of things it doesn’t look like there will be much work needed on the MOD end this week (thanks, school counselors!).

This chat  is also timely as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher (check out #ReachHigher) initiative continues to gain momentum, inspiring students (and families) across America to take charge of their future by pursuing post-secondary education. The initiative promotes the President’s North Star goal that challenges America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNhDLQMzduM[/embed]

As education professionals, we know that this goal can’t be accomplished without strong collaboration across the eduspectrum. Join school counselors from all of #K12 and other higher ed professionals as we help one another in creating better processes, promoting ideas, and improving our education system.

We’ll be using the #EMchat hashtag during our chat on Thursday at 9PM ET, but make sure you use both #EMchat and #SCcrowd during the week as we continue to source questions for the chat!

My co-mod for the night will be Ross Wolfson (who you should be following!), founder of #SCcrowd. Read all about him here!

Gardens, Growth, and Summer Melt

In addition to the projects like #EMchat, leadpath, and you know, being a new dad, I’ve taken on a new project this summer: turning my patio into a patio farm. I’m about as extroverted as a person can be, but even I need to kick back and take some personal time for 30 minutes each day. My favorite time to do this is at dusk with a good summer brew.

I started my vegetable garden because I’m a vegetable fanatic. Mostly, I’m a food fanatic. But vegetables take the number two spot on my list (crabs win, hands down). My Poppop was a farmer. He grew wheat, soybeans, and corn. And while that filled up a few hundred acres, some of my earliest memories were walking with him in his garden, picking fresh vegetables and fruits to take back to my Gram who would clean, cut, cook, and serve them.

There’s an obvious sense of pride that comes from watching something grow; something that comes from an idea, has to be cultivated, tended to, and refined. I think about this when I’m out there each night watering and caring for the plants. And while I’m there checking on the number of cucumbers growing (something I’m a little obsessive over) or noticing a new tomato that seemingly grew during the day when I wasn’t home, I’m also drawing parallels to all aspects of my life.

garden

I like to think of my life in a perpetual stage of growth, as I’m sure most people do. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve. There are always things to learn and people to meet. And when it comes to people, I’m a cultivator of relationships.

That’s the business of enrollment management.

When I found myself using my garden as a metaphor for higher education, I thought two things: 1) this is really cliché, and 2) I’m supposed to be unplugged and focusing on training the snap peas. But then I just let the thoughts happen. I’m glad I did.

I don’t want a garden that only has squash. I don’t want one type of tomato. I want vegetables that require space. I also want those that can be grown in close quarters. I want the challenge of using support apparatuses (specifically chose not to use the word cage, here J), or figuring out how the plants can make use of the space already available. I don’t want my garden to self-maintain. I want to prune and pluck and refine. I want the challenge of helping my garden to thrive while allowing it to nourish my hunger, both physical and mental.

All of the parallels are there for building a class of students that will not only show up in August, but succeed on your campuses. Melt is an inevitable fact of the summer months and now isn’t the time to stop cultivating the soil. Focus on the foundation of the relationships you’ve built over the last few months and keep them going. My summer garden will end in early October. Yours has about four years to go.

And if you’re looking for some tips on how to combat summer melt, there’s always this.

UPDATE: Arthur Arzola Scholarship

About a month ago, we launched a fundraising campaign to honor Arthur Arzola’s passion for promoting college access to first-generation and low-income students. We set an initial goal of $500 to provide a need-based book scholarship to an incoming first-generation Humboldt student.

We ended up raising $1,025.

We’ve been in touch with the IA team at Humboldt about the best approach to offer this scholarship and will keep you updated.

While we initially intended on closing the donation option on May 16th, we have since decided to keep it open until we receive direction on the path forward from HSU. This will likely occur in the next day or so. If you would like to contribute before we officially close donations, feel free to click the button below.

Thanks to everyone who participated and we’ll have an update for you as soon as we hear back.

#EMchat and the higher education community have once again blown us away with the level of generosity and passion for creating opportunities for all students, regardless of their background.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

 

donate

Our initial post can be found here.

Coming in for a landing: Helicopter parents and the admissions process

Ashley Gunn currently works as an admissions counselor with the University of Vermont admissions team. In her role, she manages the student recruitment for Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. She also works on the Diversity admissions staff and supports on-campus programs and events for prospective students from underrepresented groups. Ashley received her Masters in Education from the University of Vermont and her Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Florida. She currently lives in Burlington, Vermont with the best dog in the world.

Helicopter parents.

You can almost guarantee that bringing up this term among a group of college admissions officers will bring you a fair share of eye rolls and horror stories. Before transitioning into the field of enrollment management, I worked in the field of student affairs. My career focus was on developing the mind, body and souls of eager college students. As you can imagine, our field was becoming increasingly concerned about the emergence of parents who were so ensconced in their parental roles that they were supplanting their students place in the developmental experience of college. Calling professors to argue about grades, showing up on campus to wash their students’ clothes, stepping in at any sign of discomfort or distress in a way that was seriously hampering our ability to develop college students into independent and able people. As I began my transition into my role as an admissions counselor, veteran professionals began to prepare me for dealing with the notorious helicopter parents that would I would surely encounter. However, after almost a year in my position my negative feelings and judgments towards parents during the admissions process have all but dissipated. In its place is a growing sense of compassion, endearment and respect for the role that parents and families can play in this process.

Long heralded as the villains, helicopter parents are, more often than not, an admissions officer’s best friend. Unlike the college years when a student is transitioning into an adult with adult expectations and responsibilities, the admissions process occurs at a time when a student is on the cusp of adulthood but still in the midst of adolescence. Additionally, parents play a much more central role in this process because 1. They can sometimes know their students better than they know themselves 2. They tend to lead the charge with both their organization and funding of trips to visit colleges and 3. As college costs rise, deciding where to go often becomes a family decision. I’ve found that high school students are very able and many are focused enough to make an informed decision about what college they want to attend but most students are lost, anxious and confused and eager for guidance that needs to come from someone other than the admissions counselor they met for 10 minutes at a college fair.

I admit that when I answer the phone or open an email and notice it’s from a parent I cringe a little. I can’t help but wonder what the student is thinking and how , if at all, the parent is supporting this student to be more involved in their college search process. But after engaging with parents I come away understanding that parents and families have just as many concerns as prospective students. They are trying to find a place in a process that ends with them taking on a very different role in their child’s life then they one they have assumed for the past 18 years. Sometimes the anxiety they unknowingly give to their child is an expression of their own desire to find a place for their student that will provide them the security and foundation for success that they have been responsible for.

It’s obvious to me that parents feel somewhat guilty or ashamed of inserting themselves into their child’s college selection process. As they awkwardly try to push their child to ask more questions, or pretend to be their child over the phone or through email I have wondered about more productive and helpful ways admissions offices can find a place for parents and families to ask their questions and ease their anxieties. Creating a “space” for parents and families in the admissions process helps admissions offices, parents and students who desperately want their dad to stop asking questions about “frat” parties during an information session. Research on helicopter parents has shown that they tend to be highly educated meaning this isn’t their first rodeo. In the back of their mind is the college experience (the good and the bad) and they have more nuanced questions that student may not know to ask.

Through the power of google, I found a few colleges who seem to be providing the right kind of space for parents and families to be involved in the college admissions process:

University of Virginia: http://www.admission.virginia.edu/parents

I like the way UVA outlines information for parents in an accessible way. Nothing is more frustrating than having a question and trying to navigate some schools labyrinth like website to locate it. I often get questions from parents about how their students will be advised and what activities they will be able to participate in. UVA presents that information clearly and in one location.

University of Iowa: http://admissions.uiowa.edu/parents-family

Iowa has a great resource on their Parent and Family section called “Why Iowa.” This whole process is about helping students find the best fit and this resource is given from a parent’s perspective. It outlines all those fun facts parents like to know like outcomes and graduating on time and it does it in one location.

University of Kansas: http://admissions.ku.edu/parents

What KU does right is let parents know that they are an important piece of the process: You’re the expert. They also touch on the issues that are most important for parents and families – price, safety, academic quality and outcomes.

According to the laws of biology, parents, families and prospective students are a packaged deal. How is your institution communicating with them and making creating a safe landing spot for the ever circling “helicopter parents.”

-Ashley

The #EDtech Conversation

I had a really interesting conversation last night with Jake from Carnegie Communications. You all are probably pretty familiar with them by now, but if you’re not, I’d recommend (as an outsider to both the company and actual industry) getting acquainted. It’s a pretty legit team. That’s an aside…more like a forward, I guess.

Regardless, Jake and I were having a conversation about ed tech, and our conversation was (for a moment) focused on the fact that when people think “ed tech,” their minds pretty much jump to MOOCs. That’s all people were talking about in 2013. It’s pretty much all that people are still talking about—7 of the 10 most recent articles on Inside Higher Education’s technology page are on MOOCs and online learning. I get it. But ed tech goes FAR beyond this. Technology that supports education involves student tracking systems, predictive modeling, marketing, search, and an array of other tools.

While these tools might not be directly linked to learning, students won’t get to the learning part of college without many of them. And, if they do, maybe they’re learning at the wrong institution, taking the wrong classes, or are ill-prepared for the course load they’ve signed up for. I’m not suggesting that students can’t make good decisions on their own—they can and they do every day.

What I’m suggesting is that there are so many tools available to institutions that can optimize the student experience. We’re in an age of being able to build and track phenomenal relationships, effectively learn from historical data, and predict future outcomes, thus building more attainable and focused strategies. Institutions have the tools available to recruit, retain, and graduate students at greater rates. It’s just a matter of having the ability to adopt a new mindset and a willingness to try something new—even if it’s just a demo.

It’s time to start shifting the conversation from MOOCs to a more all-encompassing approach to ed tech.

Keep up with technology. Read up on trends and new products. Respect the fact that your CRM is just as important as the seats (or computers) in the classroom that it helps to fill. Spread the knowledge on your campus. Write a blog. Share an article. Take someone to coffee. Share your passion. Above all, keep your mind open—always.