Building Relationships: The Key to Being a Successful College Adviser

My name is Chelsie Taylor and I am a 1st year adviser at Galesburg-Augusta High School.  (I cannot tell you how many times I have said that sentence since beginning this position.  My fellow advisers know what I mean.)  If you had asked me 5 years ago what I thought I would be doing today, I don’t think the answer would have been “working in a high school”.  After graduating college, most people know what kind of job they want, where they would like to work, or that they would like to continue their higher education in graduate school.  I walked across the stage in the Breslin Center on December 13th, 2014, and still did not know what my “dream job” was.  Before graduation, I had already secured a job with a non-profit emergency housing program as their Shelter Coordinator.  Although I loved working there, I did not get home until almost midnight 5 days a week, and I found that I was bringing my emotions from work home with me, which created stress in my life.  So, when one of my friends told me about the MSU College Advising Corps, I thought, “why not?”

Fast forward through the application and interview process (which included a Skype interview while I was in Maui after a very spur-of-the-moment decision to go on an adventure.  Quick travel plug- if you ever get the chance to go to Hawai’i, DO IT.)  After a full month of summer training, I thought that I would be an expert College Adviser.  Summer training did provide me with many resources, but I will tell you the secret to this position.  Building relationships.  When the students see that you truly care, they care more, too.  When they see that you are invested, they become more invested in their education and their future.  I sincerely believe that you cannot be a successful College Adviser without building trust and strong relationships with the students, the staff, and the other advisers in the program.

To the students, I strive to not just be the “college lady”, but also a mentor, a motivator, and a role model.  I make a point to not only discuss post-secondary education with them, but also to ask them how their band concert went, or their dance recital, or their grandma’s surprise birthday party.  Some days, I stay at the school 30 minutes later than I anticipated solely because I love talking with these students.  I involve the teachers and staff in my mission to create a more prominent college-going culture in the school.  I included them in our College Application Week activities, they allow me to give presentations in their classes, and they are always supportive of my initiatives.  Lastly, I could not do this without the support of my fellow advisers.  They are always just a phone call, a text, or an email away.

Group Summit PictureHaving a goofy moment with other advisers at the 2015 College Advising Corps Summit.
This position has an expiration date, and that is both terrifying and liberating.  I have never been someone who wishes to have the same job my entire life, but I find that I am already beginning to miss Galesburg-Augusta High School even though I still have over 1 year left in this position.  I love this school, the students, and the staff.  I may not know what I am doing after this, or where I will go, or what exactly I want to do in life (*panic attack begins*), but I can tell you what I do know.  I know that right now, at this time in my life, I am happy with where I am.  I know that I don’t mind waking up at 5:30am every day because I love what I do.  I know that being in the MSUCAC has given me relationships that will last a lifetime.  And I know that I am making a difference.

Summit Picture

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