I have been a college admission counselor for about 9 1/2 years now, recruiting for Northwestern College (undergoing a name-change Summer 2013!), the most wonderful Christian college and my alma mater. Recruitment at a small Christian college is definitely different than recruiting for a large state school. These are the pros and cons.
* I like being a selective school, but it does make college fairs difficult. We are not the best school for a lot of students I meet, and it’s an interesting balance to remain enthusiastic and love each student I meet, all while trying to point them in the right direction.
* LifeLight 2006, trying to recruit at a music festival in the middle of a South Dakota field when it has rained all weekend and the mud is higher than your ankles and threatens to suck your shoes off as you take three times as long just to move 100 feet away.
* Rude parents. You would not believe how awful parents can be to college recruiters.
* When a student LOVES your school but the financial aid just doesn’t come through. It about breaks your heart.
* Loving the students you work with and then having them choose another school in the end.
* When those students you love go to another school but still keep in touch (and even visit you when you are recruiting in their college’s town!). Caitlin, you made my visits to South Dakota so sweet, and I cherish your friendship.
* Meeting kiddos when they are in high school and then watching them come to your school, get involved, make great friends, and succeed academically. I met Brieanne when she was in 9th or 10th grade … and now she is in her first year of grad school and living in the building next to mine. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her now– and how many times she has made me proud over the years!
* That moment when your relationship with a student switches over from recruiter/recruit to just plain and simple friendship.
* When those kids you recruit become some of your very best friends. When I was 21, I didn’t know that the high school senior named Desiree I was recruiting from South Dakota would eventually be my roommate and dear friend. Likewise, even though Elyse and I emailed almost every day of her senior year, I still had no idea how close we would become over the years– now she is in graduate school and one of my favorite people on earth!
* When you just click with certain kids. I was friends with Jamie since he was a high schooler and also through his first year or so of college. He would always talk to me online and say, “Sorry for interrupting your work, but I have a question,” and I would say, “Jamie, you are my work.” When he finally started at Northwestern, he came to my office and said, “Sorry to interrupt,” and I went to say my usual phrase, and he and I both stopped and stared in amazement at each other. ”I’m not your work anymore!” he said, wide-eyed, and we both laughed. After that I jokingly nicknamed him “Dr. Interruption.” Jamie would “smuggle” me Harry Potter books in those years when Christians were still so anti-Hogwarts.
* Enjoying certain towns because of the people you’ll see there, regardless of whether they are interested in your school or not. McGregor girls, I’m talking about you.
* All the public speaking opportunities (Note: this could also be filed under the Bad/Ugly column!)
To all the wonderful students and families I have met with and bonded with over the years, thank you. Students are often surprised when I can tell them my memories of first meeting them, even when it’s 6-10 years later, but the point is that you guys matter to me. My life is built up of words and people and my God (who is both the Word and a Person), and you have made it special. Thank you so much. I love you.