Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday On The Road: Rain, But Barbecue

It feels good to be back home after a week on the road. Covering seven counties and hundreds of miles is a tiring yet fulfilling experience, but I'm always ready to return home at the end of the week.

It's a shame the week ended with rain. A weird weather system drifted in off of the coast late this week. Wet, windy weather always makes following directions on unfamiliar roads much more complicated. Today had its highlights though, and there are two things in particular I'd like to share.

First, barbecue. The admissions representatives from Louisburg College recommended Johnny's Barbecue, an apparent hometown favorite, for lunch. The reps from UNC-Wilmington, Marshall University, UNC-Pembroke, and I almost didn't make it there. We followed a Garmin GPS's instructions and ended up on a dead end road in a neighborhood at a vacant lot. A very nice man who lived in the neighborhood directed us to the real location of the restaurant. The food was worth it! I had a barbecue sandwich with cole slaw, hush puppies and sweet tea. It had all the characteristics of a quintessential North Carolina lunch.

More importantly, during my final visit of the week at Warren County High School I saw one of Carolina's own recent alumni in action. Jennifer Fisher, who is a college adviser for a couple of schools in Warren County, had been responsible for organizing the college fair and preparing students to meet the representatives. She is part of a national program based in the Admissions Office at UNC-Chapel Hill called the National College Advising Corps. The corps places recent graduates from colleges around the country in under served high schools in order to encourage more students to consider applying to and attending college. Ms. Fisher did a great job preparing the students for the fair. In just my short hour at the school, I could see the impact she is having on her students. I'm so glad I could be there to see the progress she is making first-hand. Check out the pictures. I snapped a quick photo of my table display and convinced Ms. Fisher to slow down for 20 seconds for a shot of us together.

I hope you've enjoyed learning more about the typical experiences admissions counselors have on the road. I'm off to enjoy my brief weekend. I'll be out on the road again next week, so look for me if you are from Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Rockingham or Stokes counties. Stop by my table and say hi!

Over and out,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday On The Road: Sharing Tables

Who said admissions counselors can't have a little fun? The picture shows the representatives from High Point University, Cleveland College (Tenn.), Marshall University (W. Va.), Belmont Abbey and me shopping during our lunch break.

This week I am delighted to be traveling in a group with representatives from North Carolina and around the country. Each year our universities travel to just about every county in the state on one, organized schedule. Our professional organization, the Carolinas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACRAO), works with local high schools to coordinate the schedule, and all of the representatives agree to travel together as a service to the state.

At the college fairs students sometimes assume we are competing with each other to get students to apply and attend our institution specifically. Our traditional sports rivalries are sometimes thought to be present in the college admissions process too. For instance, "How can the NC State and Carolina representatives share a table, much less stand beside each other? Aren't they rivals?"

The truth is college fairs organized by CACRAO are not about the traditional rivalries. As admissions professionals we are dedicated to getting students interested in attending college in general. We are not trying to steal students from each other -- we want students to find the best college for themselves. We all have unique characteristics to offer, and we want you to find the best fit.

Outside of the fairs we attend, we respect each other as colleages and friends. We enjoy learning about each other's universities. Each representative had interesting college experiences themselves, and each took a different path to get to their current position. On top of the amazing students I meet daily, I get to know individuals from around the country that are dedicated to advancing the education of all students.

On the road we share tables and set up our displays side by side. We caravan to all of the events and sometimes carpool. We eat meals together and hang out during free time. Most importantly, we share a sincere interest in your future, and we work together to help as many students as we can realize their dreams.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday On The Road: "I love this school!"

I have two lifelong travel goals. One is to visit all 50 of our country's states. The other is to visit all 100 of North Carolina's counties. I'm really close to attaining the latter (I have 17 left). The weather was perfect for driving today. Check out the pictures below. In the second you will see the typical caravan of admissions representatives driving from one fair to the next.

Today was a good day to be on the road. It also was a good day to be a Tar Heel. The definite theme of the day was, "I love this school." More students than normal started their conversations with these words. My simple response to them was, "What about UNC-Chapel Hill do you love the most?" I expected to get "basketball" in response. That's the obvious answer. But I underestimated their passion for the University.

The science programs are really good.
A lot of smart people go to school there.

I've visited campus and it's so nice.
My friend is an English major there and she tells me about everything.

It's always been my dream to go to Carolina.

The students I spoke with today had a love for the University that runs deep. In part, I think their love is due to the excellence of the academic experience and the beauty of the historic campus, but there's something more. Many North Carolinians feel a connection to UNC-Chapel Hill, because of the sense of community it resonates. I'm glad our prospective students intuitively understand that special aspect about Carolina.

And I was asked a lot of thoughtful questions today too. Like I said, it was a good day. I savored it, because the meteorologists say we're in for rain tomorrow (and I left my umbrella at home).

I'd love to hear more about what you all love the most about UNC-Chapel Hill. Feel free to post your comments.

Next Up: Traveling with "Rivals"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday On The Road: Heavy Lifting in High Heels

Admissions representatives do not need to carry dumbbells along on the road, because we lift enough heavy boxes to maintain our fitness. I handed out at least 500 of our brochures to students and families today in Alamance and Orange counties. That adds up to a substantial amount of packing, unpacking, pulling, toting, stacking and arranging. Amidst all of the moving of materials, admissions reps have to be outfitted with the proper equipment to get the job done. I've compiled a list of the items I can't live without on the road.

Laurie's Top Ten Admissions Travel Items
  1. Brochures... Of course, we attend college fairs to provide both printed and verbal information, so the brochures are a must.
  2. Rolling Suitcase... (Pictured Above) When I'm not carrying boxes I'm wheeling a black bag full of materials behind me. If you have ever seen us arriving for college fairs, we look like flight attendants entering an airport.
  3. Van... I'll be driving more than 500 miles this week! All of the materials are arranged in just the right way for easy access in loading and unloading.
  4. Bottled Water... To maintain my voice while talking all day.
  5. Cell Phone... I'm not sure how we survived without them.
  6. Google Maps... Another thing I barely remember living without. When possible, Google Maps is replaced by GPS.
  7. Name Tag... I'm proud to wear my name tag, because I'm proud to represent UNC-Chapel Hill!
  8. Coffee... I'm addicted anyway, but admissions travel gives me an excuse to have a cup (or two).
  9. Computer... I try to stay connected to the happenings in the office as much as possible while on the road.
  10. Carolina Blue... Like I said, I love the University, so I try to incorporate Carolina Blue into my outfits as much as possible.
To be successful at traveling, it's helpful to have flexibility, a good sense of direction, creativity and a love for visiting new places as well.

Before I travel farther away from home for the rest of the week, I better make sure my bags are packed!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday On The Road: Laurie's Travels

Hello, Readers! I'm Laurie Hogan, one of the Admissions Counselors at UNC-Chapel Hill. Travel is a big part of our job during the fall months, so this week I'll be blogging from the road.

Travel is my favorite part of working in admissions. As a Carolina alumnae, I love talking about the University, and boy, can I talk. I also like meeting all of you in your high schools and hometowns. You surprise and impress me daily with stories about your academic achievements and involvement with activities. You're amazing people, and I'm lucky to be a part of your college search.

Here's a schedule of the locations I'm visiting this week. I'll be in Alamance, Caswell, Person, Granville, Vance, Franklin and Warren counties in North Carolina. If you see me at one of these college fairs, please stop by my table and let me know you saw the blog!

Monday: Alamance County at Elon University
Tuesday: Alamance County at Elon University; Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Orange County at UNC-Chapel Hill
Wednesday: Person Senior HS and Bartlett-Yancey HS
Thursday: Northern Vance HS, Southern Vance HS, JF Webb HS/South Granville HS
Friday: Bunn/Franklinton/Louisburg HS at Louisburg College; Warren County HS

As you may have guessed, admissions travel involves creativity in driving, restaurant scouting and lodging. I'll do my best to bring you the most exciting parts. Today I spoke with a lot of great students and parents in Alamance County. This is starting off to be a great week! I'll be back tomorow to tell you more.

Up Next: Equipment Essentials

Meet Sarah Nelson

Sarah Nelson
Title: Admissions Counselor
# of years at UNC: 1
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Area of specialty in office: working with transfer students

My favorite part of my job is talking with visiting families and students and sharing my love for Carolina.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a writer for a travel magazine.

My favorite thing about Carolina is the amazingly talented and diverse student body.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in public policy. I find some much of my work in education tied to national and state policy and would really love to have a better understanding of this area.

The best question I’ve ever gotten at a college fair was tell me five words to describe Carolina. I wish I could remember which words I used…it was a great question!

My best memory from my undergraduate experience is the out-of-class internships and volunteer experiences I had as a public relations major.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Meet Andrea Felder

Andrea Felder
Title: Associate Director
NC territory: I no longer have a North Carolina territory. But, I travel here and there around the state for my colleagues, so you may see me at a fair this fall.
Out-of-State territory: I have the pleasure of recruiting internationally. So, my out of state territory is the rest of the world.
# of years at UNC: 4 years as an undergraduate and 8 years in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Hometown: Mitchellville, MD
Area of specialty in office: In addition to working with international students, I also work with the staff that takes phone calls and processes applications.

My favorite part of my job is meeting new students and answering their questions. I also really enjoy getting to know students through their applications.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a college counselor at an international school. Or I would travel around the world and learn about local cultures.

My favorite thing about Carolina is the sense of community found on this campus. You can definitely find your niche here. I also like spring days in Chapel Hill.

The longest airline journey I’ve ever experienced was my trip from Singapore back to the RDU airport. I was in the air for about 21 hours. Add to that a few hours for layovers in Japan and Washington, D.C.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in international studies again. I thoroughly enjoyed that major.

My best memory from my undergraduate experience is a surprise birthday party that my friends threw for me. Although I almost unknowingly thwarted their plans, they pulled off the surprise flawlessly.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Meet Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez
Title: Assistant Director
NC territory: Mecklenburg and Union County
Out-of-State territory: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, California
# of years at UNC: 3 years
Hometown: Norwalk, CT
Area of specialty in office: Diversity Recruitment

My favorite part of my job is speaking to prospective students and parents who might be going through the college application process for the first time; reading applications.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be helping develop education policy.

My favorite thing about Carolina is the student body. I have met some really dynamic, smart, involved and personable students that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it here. It makes it easy for me to talk to prospective students and feel like I am being honest about what we have to offer.

When traveling in my recruitment territory, I like to eat at all the wonderful restaurants in my territory.

The longest airline journey I’ve ever experienced was when I was 12 years old…traveling to Honduras to visit relatives. I left from New York went to Miami and was supposed to catch a connecting flight to Honduras. I missed my connecting flight, had to stay overnight in Miami with a flight attendant then for some reason flew to Texas the next day and then to Honduras. It was the scariest most grown up thing I had ever done up to that point!

Meet Bob Patterson

Bob Patterson
Title: Associate Director of Admissions
NC territory: Orange, Durham, Caswell, Franklin, Granville, Person, Rockingham, Vance, Warren
# of years at UNC: Going on 4 years
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Area of specialty in office: Recruitment

My favorite part of my job is working with students to pursue the dream of going to college.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a high school guidance counselor.

My favorite thing about Carolina is the community of students and the pride they exhibit every day. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t see at least 50 students wearing a Carolina shirt.

The longest airline journey I’ve ever experienced was a flight from Charlotte, NC to Munich, Germany with my father. We cruised around the Mediterranean visiting 6 different countries including Egypt and Greece.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in everything. There are so many great opportunities available to Carolina students that were never available to me.

My best memory from my undergraduate experience is giving a tour to a student who decided to enroll on the spot.

Bob declined to submit a photograph. So I drew a picture of him. He looks just like that, promise!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meet Laurie Hogan

Laurie Hogan
Title: Admissions Counselor
Where I'm Traveling: Central North Carolina (Stokes, Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Rockingham, Guilford, Randolph, Caswell, Alamance, Person, Orange, Durham, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Warren and Wake counties)
# of years at UNC: 4 (Carolina student!) + 1 (Student Affairs) + 1 (Admissions)
Hometown: High Point, NC
Area of specialty in office: I work with students daily to solve problems and answer their questions, so I know a little bit about everything, but I mostly work with recruitment and the awarding of transfer credit. Also, if you need to know something about campus, a department, or student organization, I'm a walking Carolina encyclopedia.

If I weren’t an admissions counselor, I would be a press secretary for a governor or senator, a Government/U.S. History teacher, or I’d open a bakery.

My favorite thing about Carolina is McCorkle Place, the upper quad that is home to the oldest buildings on campus, the Old Well and the Davie Poplar. It’s shady and quiet, filled with history. It reminds me that being a Tar Heel means I’m connected to past students, who have walked the same pathways as me since 1795.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in Journalism and Political Science again, because they are excellent majors. But I'd also consider American Studies, Biomedical Engineering, Dentistry, Education, Health Policy & Administration or Music.

The best question I’ve ever gotten at a college fair was, "If I go to Carolina, can I be a crocodile hunter like Steve Irwin?"

Laurie is heading out across North Carolina this week for some college fairs, and she'll be blogging from the road. So check back to hear her stories, and submit your own questions for her! --Julie

Meet Dave Meredith

Dave Meredith
Title: Senior Assistant Director
NC territory: Wake County
Out-of-state territory: California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana
# of years at UNC: Five
Hometown: Morehead, Kentucky but spent most of my life in Ohio until I moved to NC.

My favorite part of my job is meeting students and helping them navigate the fairly complex world of admissions. It really isn’t that complex!

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a beach bum, but from what I hear, they don’t make much money. How about a SCUBA site explorer? Or even a food taster for seafood restaurants.
My favorite thing about Carolina is the students of course! It sounds corny but it is true.

When travelling in my recruitment territory, I like to count how many times I get lost. Sometimes it is a very high number. Luckily I’ve learned that it is OK to ask for directions.

The longest airline journey I’ve ever experienced was Cincinnati to Hawaii but man was it worth it!

If in possession of limitless worldly wealth, I would buy Maui and go diving every day. Oh, and eat grilled mahi for lunch every day! I’d spend the weekends in Belize exploring Mayan ruins.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in…probably History or Political Science.

The best question I’ve ever gotten at a college fair was "Do you all have a basketball team?" And this was at a North Carolina fair!! I’m not making that up!

My best memory from my undergraduate experience is…The guys next door built a deck in their room. Think about it. They put their mattresses under the deck which meant nearly 100% of their room space was usable. It was a great idea and soon became THE place to hang out. Of course tearing it down was no fun but the rest of the year was great.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meet Julie Sizemore

Julie Sizemore
Title: Assistant Director
NC territory: I am territory-less because of my other duties in the office. This occasionally makes me sad, and makes me not feel like a "real" recruiter. But then again, I don't have to criss-cross the state and country like a restless vagabond, so I see that as a plus.
OOS territory: See above.
# of years at UNC: One + a wee bit.
Hometown: Williamsburg, VA
Area of specialty in office: Communications (letters, emails, brochures, website, BLOG!!)

My favorite part of my job is working with our wonderful group of student bloggers and keeping in touch with prospective students through this blog.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be creating custom stationery, invitations, and prints on a 1,000 lb letterpress in my garage. I would wear a bandana on my head and flip-flops on my feet every single day. And since this is a daydream, we'll say I'd also have a complete silkscreen studio in there too. I'll need a bigger garage. Oh, wait. I'll need to get a garage. A big one.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in…um...linguistics, information science, art, city and regional planning, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, journalism, or peace, war and defense. Or maybe sociology.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meet Melissa Kotačka

Melissa A. Kotačka
Title: Assistant Director
NC territory: northeastern North Carolina (east of I-95 and north of US 264 plus Johnston County)
Out-of-State territory: Florida, South Carolina, Iowa, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
# of years at UNC: Two as a graduate student, less than one in Admissions
Hometown: I was born in Florida, spent my formative years in Iowa and have called Chapel Hill home for over five years now.
Area of specialty in office: Working with prospective music students, decoding international transcripts

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be teaching middle school language arts.

When travelling in my recruitment territory, I like to expand my photography portfolio.

If I could be an undergraduate all over again, studying at Carolina, I would major in education and linguistics.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Meet Andrew Parrish

Andrew Parrish
Title: Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
NC territory: Western NC
Out-Of-State territory: Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio
# of years at UNC: 2
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Area of specialty in office: I’m in charge of daily visitation, which means the various ways that people visit campus on a daily basis. It also means I get to work with some of our top students as I advise our Carolina Admissions Ambassador program, which is the program dedicated to engaging prospective students in meaningful conversation about Carolina.

My favorite part of my job is the humbling opportunity to be a beacon of light on the craggy shore of the college search journey. It’s such an exciting time of life for so many students, and I get the chance to interact with some of the brightest and most thoughtful prospective students this country has to offer. I get to share with them a little bit of the feeble advice I possess and have learned through my own trial and error. Now, that’s not a job, that’s a calling!

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be…Do I have to give a realistic answer?? I am going to pretend I can be a big kid here…. I would either be A) Skiing in the Swiss Alps B) Taking pictures for National Geographic C) Starting a consulting business that allowed me to use experiential learning techniques in the wilderness to teach self-awareness and create opportunities for shared meaning amongst groups of people D) Free-lance writing about the world and the various peoples and cultures within it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Meet Kendra

# of years at UNC:
4 years of undergraduate study and 9 years working in the Admissions Office
Hometown: Pittsboro, NC
Areas of specialty in office: Transfer students, Coordinate the Carolina Alumni Admissions Program

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a professional poker player!

My favorite thing about Carolina is
fall days. There’s nothing like walking on campus on a clear fall day, under Carolina Blue skies, and hearing “Hark the Sound” ringing from the bell tower.

When traveling in my recruitment territory, I like to visit the local outlet malls.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Meet Erin Breese

Erin M. Breese
Title: Senior Assistant Director of Admissions
NC territory: Cleveland County, Gaston County, A portion of Mecklenburg County (David Butler High School, East Mecklenburg High School, EE Waddell High School, Independence High School, Providence High School, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte Country Day School, Providence Day School, Weddington High School)
Out-Of-State territory: Washington DC, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas
Number of years at UNC: Two
Hometown: I’ve lived in Alabama, Texas, Nebraska, Belgium, Oklahoma, Virginia, Vermont, Miami – and now North Carolina.
Areas of specialty in office: Organize efforts to recruit prospective Tar Heels; oversee daily visitation program; act as member of application review committee; manage AP/IB/CLEP/ACT/SAT credit by exam process; remove spider webs from the front of the Admissions building

My favorite part of my job is demystifying college admissions for our guests and helping students realize their life should not be defined by where they go to college, but what they do while they are there.

If I weren’t an admissions director, I would be a speech-language pathologist, archeologist, or rabbit rescuer.

When travelling in my recruitment territory, I like to perfect my skill of eating and reading while driving.

Meet our recruitment staff

Fall is travel season in the Admissions Office. Our recruitment staff (some 18 or so strong) heads out on the road to meet students at college fairs, high school visits, parent nights, and receptions. You can visit Tar Heels in Your Town to get the latest on where we're visiting. If there is not an event listed for your area, keep checking back over the coming months. We are always adding events, and we continue to update that list throughout the fall.

I'll be introducing some of our recruitment staff here on the blog over the next week. I sent out a questionnaire for them to fill out. (which they LOVED of course. No not really. One said it felt like he was filling out a personal ad.) Hopefully you'll enjoy seeing the faces and personalities of our great staff--and feel free to send us any questions you have.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New bloggers on the Tar Heel Blog

We've got a couple new bloggers posting over at Tar Heel Blog. Autumn is a sophomore journalism major from Martinsville, VA. Her first post includes an awesome 360-degree video of her dorm room, in case you're wondering just what a Carolina residence hall room looks like. I don't think they're all quite that clean--I'm not sure how many Tar Heels make their bed on a daily basis. I might be surprised though. These students have a way of surprising me pretty much all the time.

We also have Olga joining us. She's a first-year studying journalism and psychology. Born in Moscow, she now lives in Columbia, MO. I mentioned Olga in my last post for her great piece in the Daily Tar Heel about adjusting to college life, so I'm very excited to have her on the blog as well.

Welcome Autumn and Olga! A few more bloggers will be joining us in the coming weeks, so there will be lots of activity over on the Tar Heel Blog. Check it out.