I did it guys! I made it into the news! More than once! I’m famous!
When I started at Inland Lakes as the College Adviser, my students wrote an article for the school news website announcing my arrival. I’m still not sure how it ended up in the town’s newspaper, but it did. And it makes sense. I’m an AmeriCorps member, not a teacher or counselor. Only about one hundred schools in the state have a College Adviser, and only thirty are so lucky to be associated with Michigan State University! My role is specific and the work is honestly inspiring. But within a week, my name had been in the paper. It was a feat I had never accomplished until then. Within three weeks I received a letter. Rather, a thank you card. The card was from Sue Ballor, a Republican representative for the community serving in the Michigan House of Representatives. She thanked me for stepping in to help the community. I wrote a “thank you for your thank you card” message, but I never sent it. To this day, I shake my head at how I turned down an amazing opportunity to express gratitude.
Throughout the last year and a half, I’ve worked with my school’s journalism team, the town’s reporter, and the newspaper for the whole county in which I serve. They have helped me spread my messages of why College Advisers do what we do and the role we play in our schools. They’ve helped me advertise events and have put out messages of me requesting additional help. They’ve played a huge role in my success, and the success of all other College Advisers. And still, I haven’t thanked them enough. They have been my link to my small community. They have helped me get settled, and helped me thrive as a new professional. They have been the first to show support or to congratulate me on a successful event.
I started off this article maybe trying to brag a little bit. I mean, I am trying to get hired at the end of my service term after all. But Nicole Hurd, the Founder and President of College Advising Corps, has told us time and time again that the most important step we can take to being successful is expressing gratitude to our supporters. So Kortny, Tim, and the third hour Journalism class: Thank you for your support and your kindness.
And now, my plug!
The week I started in my school, a sophomore at the time wrote an article announcing my arrival to the school as a College Adviser. The photograph wouldn’t have been my first choice, but Tyra did an excellent job of making me sound fun and approachable!
My good friend, former ILS senior Loretta, helped me spread my message about the importance of the FAFSA (“Guys, it’s so critical. Do your FAFSA now. Like, let’s just do it right now. Let’s go” is basically the only thing seniors heard me say all winter).
One of the biggest projects I’ve ever worked on was the school’s College Fair. From communicating with recruiters, to managing RSVPs, to driving home from a conference in a blizzard the day before to help set up and print out hundreds of student surveys, it was a doozy. But it was so much fun, and given our rural location that’s at least two hours away from any four year university, this event was great in giving exposure to so many schools. Kortny from the Cheboygan Tribune wrote an article advertise it to the entire community.
Our Decision Day... goodness! All College Advisers are expected to participate in Michigan Decision Day. It’s a lot like college signing days for athletes, but it allows all seniors to share with their peers and community what their future plans are. I worked with the senior English teacher to create a plan for Decision Day, and she worked incredibly hard throughout the whole semester to see our project to fruition. Once again, the lovely Kortny from the Tribune helped me spread this message of Decision Day and how community members could get involved.
College Advisers are also asked to participate in Michigan College Month. It’s the main time for sending out applications to colleges, many of which waive application fees, so I like to really gun it during October. A current senior wrote about our progress for the school news site.
My latest project has been with the College Ambassador program. I’ve gotten a team of awesome seniors to help me with tasks both big and little in supporting the college-going culture at the school, and a student wrote an article to help me me share what so many students were doing crammed into my tiny office during sixth hour.
Once again, thank you friends.
I’m just going to put it out there right now: I cry quite a bit in this job. I’ve cried in my office, on my way home from the school, and I once straight up sobbed as I watched last year’s senior walk down the aisle for their graduation. And then again a sweet, sweet salutatorian thanked me in her speech (Note to self for this year’s graduation ceremony: bring tissues).
Perhaps that’s not the most professional quality. This job really takes toll on your heart though! If you think about it, a high school student’s senior year is stressful and emotional and kids are making big decisions and some are failing and some are worried and some express a lot of self-doubt when you know and you tell them that they are kind and brilliant humans with beautiful souls and bright futures.
At first, I was extremely self-conscious about getting emotional while doing my job. But you know what? I’m going to own it now. I love this work and I love these students. And I’m going to let them know it. Some of them are the first in their family to go to college and don’t understand that sometimes there are issues with their FAFSAs or their senior year grades and they walk the dangerous ledge of maybe missing deadlines, and therefore missing opportunities. Some of them have busy parents who don’t have time to shout and dance when an acceptance letter arrives in the mail.
And I’m lucky enough to be on the front line for those events.
Case in point: a really awesome and talented senior recently applied and was accepted to his dream film school. He worked so hard on his application and I was asking him twice a day how he was doing on his application or to see when they might be sending out decision letters. He’d been in contact with the admissions representative, hearing nothing but good news. He would talk dreamingly about how when he got his acceptance letter he would run in my office and show me. Then one day, he came in my office with a defeated look, a hidden camera, and a rejection letter.
Spoiler alert #1: the rejection letter was fake.
Spoiler alert #2: I cried.