There's a special kind of panic that sets in for some people in their final
year of high school. You can see it in their eyes. They know they have to
continue their education, but they don't know what to do or where to do it.
That's where college admissions counselors come in. They're the people
who turn up at high schools between September and December. They give presentations
about the university or college they work for, talk about programs the institution
offers and sometimes even offer guidance on financial assistance.
Every month, they chat with thousands of students across the country. And
while the blur of students can be overwhelming, these people have to look
at every person as an individual.
In the U.S., the main body representing admissions counselors is the National
Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
Admissions officers typically start out with a clerical part-time job in
administration. There they become familiar with admissions procedures and
make contacts with the people who do the hiring.
Most college admissions counselors work on a full-time basis. But some
are on contracts that extend from August to December.
College admissions officers work long hard hours, particularly during the
heavy recruitment months of September through to December. Overtime is common
and they may sometimes work on weekends.
Donna Raczynski is a former director of professional development with the
NACAC. "In the spring and fall, you might hit your first high school at 8
a.m. and leave around 3 p.m., and then you'll do a college night from 7 to
9 p.m. During one tour, you could have 5,000 to 15,000 people come through,"
Travel is another big consideration. While smaller colleges usually draw
locally, counselors at the big universities get a chance to travel the country,
sometimes even going overseas.
"There's a lot of traveling and a lot of burnout," says Ron Koger. He is
assistant vice-president for enrollment services at the University of Alabama
"I always tell my people that they've got to pick up something back at
the office like publications or [college] transfers, just so you're not a
Katherine MacNeill is the manager of recruitment at a university. She agrees.
"The recruitment people are based on campus, but they certainly would do an
enormous amount of travel."
Student use of the web and university websites continues to rise. They
are now visiting these sites for admission information, course catalogs and
descriptions of programs.
University admissions offices also use the Internet for student recruitment
and to communicate with prospective students. Applications are being accepted
online, and institutions have enhanced the electronic application process.
People with most kinds of special needs may still have the ability to do
this job. What you need most are good communication, analytical and people