By Mary Kay Smith, Parkland College
I attended my first ever Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling annual conference in May and experienced a whole new side of admission advising. As a Student Services Advisor at a community college, it’s easy to get weighed down by the day-to-day processes of my home institution. The conference made me look at admission advising from a higher level. Whether hearing about the number of students that are leaving the state to go to college, or listening to our state legislators discuss the budget crisis, I was able to step back and look at some of the broader issues facing education in Illinois.
Even in a year where there are so many negatives in higher education, the vibe of the conference was positive and uplifting.
Even in a year where there are so many negatives in higher education, the vibe of the conference was positive and uplifting. Instead of whining about our collective problems, the conference focused on the small things we can do to make a difference with our students. Now looking back at the conference brochure, I realize there are dozens of other lectures I would have liked to attend.
I brought home great ideas on how to make campus visits more exciting and meaningful to prospective students. Just reminding student ambassadors to tell families where the campus tour is going and how long it’s going to last, can make a more successful event. We were excited to learn about Kahoot that we can use with students in place of clickers to get instant feedback. Being reminded that enthusiasm and excitement really can make a student choose our college first is something that we can build around.
At the end of the day, I appreciated my fellow admission professionals most of all. From the warm welcome at the first-timers lunch to the comradery of the final dinner, I felt I was with people that really cared about students. We are all working to help students find the best fit socially, academically, and financially. I was also impressed with the leadership of IACAC. Those that spoke about their path to student services and the competence and commitment that so many exhibited made me feel proud to be part of the organization. We may not get everything right every day, but these are sincere individuals who are making a difference in so many lives.