Monday, October 8, 2007

UW On The Road

Karen talking to a prospective student about admission guidelines at a college fair in Rockford, Illinois

After seven straight days on the road, it’s so nice to finally be back home—in my house, in my bed, in my office. As I mentioned in a previous post, last week I was in the Chicago area with Karen recruiting prospective students at local high schools and various evening college fairs. The work was exhausting and each day we were up by 5:30 a.m. for a run, on the road by 7 a.m., and not back to her sister’s house in Elmhurst (where we were crashing for the week) until after 9 p.m. It was a nice change of pace to meet with high school students outside of the office to tell them more about UW and answer all of their questions. And for the most part the students were bright, attentive, and engaged, but the quality of the high schools, counseling staff, and students did vary drastically.

Most of you might be wondering what is involved in a high school visit or college fair. Each of our office’s 14 admission counselors is assigned a given geographic territory from which we recruit and review applications. Staff member like Karen and myself, whose primary duties within the office fall outside application review, have smaller territories. We each review approximately 600 applications and do a small amount of travel each year.

Each counselor makes high school visits to the top feeder high schools in their territory, which for me, ends up being about ten high schools in Illinois from which we receive more than twenty applications. The purpose of the high school visit is to meet with prospective students, mostly junior and seniors, to present to them an overview of the university and campus, and tell them more about the application process, how we review applications, costs and financial aid, and housing. Attendance, attentiveness, academic quality of the prospects, rigor of course work offered, and the attitudes of the high school counseling staff really runs the gamut. Together, Karen and I made 14 high school visits to high schools such as New Trier, Evanston, Barrington, and Saint Charles North.

A college fair, on the other hand, is typically a two hour engagement during the evening held at a local community college. Throughout the week, Karen and I attended four college fairs in Crystal Lake, Aurora, Elgin, and Rockford. Basically we set up a table with a few of our primary publications and answer questions from students and parents. The attendance and academic quality of the prospects really varies for these, too. Ideally, we want to talk to lots of top students who are taking extremely rigorous high school course loads.

Probably way more than you needed to know.

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