Admissions and Enrollment: Building a Career From a Job — A Webinar Recap

Have you been bitten by the higher education bug that gets many early-career admissions staff? It happens every year at a private liberal arts college or public university system school. Welcome to the hip-and-happening-crowd. If you’re eager to learn how to grow and develop in admissions or enrollment for higher education, you’re in the right place.

Parchment was proud to sponsor the November 2, 2022, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) hosted webinar titled, Admissions and Enrollment: Building a Career From a Job

Four admissions executives provided their personal, hard-won insights into the foundations of becoming an enrollment management leader.

  • David Burge, Vice President for Enrollment Management, George Mason University
  • Erin Hutchinson, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, Earlham College 
  • Kim Medina, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management, Colorado Mesa University
  • James Miller, Associate Provost and Dean of Admission, Seattle University

The insights touched upon include: 

  • How critical creative problem solving is to tackling age-old problems — like meeting ever-changing wants and needs of students — with leading-edge solutions.
  • How to develop a macro and micro-level understanding of your institution’s appeal to students.
  • How to recruit and develop a well-rounded team and strengthen your department to better serve each new student cohort.
A student who came in the spring of their senior year [in high school], in a complete sort of academic disaster, wanted to enroll. [I gave them] the ‘not right now’ answer and worked with them through every step of the process. I still remember, on their first day, them walking into the office to show me their ID card and seeing a transformed student. That was the goosebump moment of being in the middle of the process that helped me realize this is what I’m supposed to do.

You had a goosebump moment? Great! Now what?

You endeavor to make your students’ college careers as simple as possible, but your own career course might not be so straightforward.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), “Navigating a career path within the college and university admission and enrollment management field can often be difficult for some admission professionals. This sector tends to encompass individuals with varied experiences and the nature of the work within these departments requires a broad skillset.”

Our panel of four college and university executives share their stories so that you can envision:

  • How these higher education executives charted their career course.
  • The key turning points in their careers.
  • What mentorship did for their professional development.
  • How balance affected their success in college admissions and enrollment.

 

No single story of “how I got started” in admissions and enrollment for higher ed is the same. For one panelist, a college campus tour started everything. For another, it took a challenge that they couldn’t have a career in higher ed. Still another said someone told them they could have a career in admissions. 

Each unique career journey placed these leaders in a position to make a difference in students’ lives. Every professional development path has something to teach you. For example, Kim Medina took “wining and dining” principles she’d honed in her admissions work and applied those ideas to enrollment at Colorado Mesa University. David Burge kept his eye out for roles at institutions where he could use his passion, experience and skills to greater outcomes for students.

Thirty-four years later, the part of my job that brings me the greatest sense of satisfaction is getting students to college who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to college. And it’s taken me a minute to find a position and an institution where I get to do that.

On the other hand, it was the lack of an official role model or mentor that has made Erin Hutchinson more determined to be that sounding board for up-and-coming enrollment professionals.

...the closest I’ve ever had to a mentor would be Julia Kozak, who retired from Washington and Lee Admissions office…I would see her once a month,…And it was nice to have somebody who knew it, who was outside of it, and not part of it anymore, just to talk about it with. It was not anything official, but I do really appreciate her being a sounding board for me…

Looking to stand out in your Admissions and Enrollment career? Parchment Recruit can help you make an impact in your institution by giving you a new tool to meet your enrollment goals.

 

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