As advisers we have to learn to communicate effectively with our target audience (teenagers). This blog is (mostly) geared toward future advisers, so I’m using that approach and going with what twenty-somethings understand best: listicles. In true BuzzFeed fashion…
TOP TEN THINGS MSUCAC HAS GIVEN ME:
- Direction and a passion (finally…) – We all hope to help our students find their passion and develop their goals. Yet we don’t always realize that at the same time we’re developing our own. I didn’t come into this job straight from college. I had been working in a different field and MSUCAC was a complete career change for me. Yet the past two years have confirmed that I made the right move and solidified my passion for working in higher education.
- Opportunity – To directly impact young people at a crucial time in their lives. To truly make a difference in the life of another person. To alter the trajectory of an entire family. To influence not only the immediate future, but make ripples that will effect change long after I am gone.
- Smart, funny, inspiring friends – I have made lifelong friends through MSUCAC. I am not a sentimental person (I’m a green/gold, after all) so referring to people as lifelong friends is significant. For incoming advisers – make sure to bond with your fellow advisers. Honestly, you learn the bulk of your job from them. My MSUCAC friends are some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever known, and I am a better person for having known them. They’ve also provided much needed comedic relief and emotional support along the way, the value of which cannot be understated.
- Stress – The first fall of this position was the most stressful time of my entire life, and that is not an exaggeration. The stress has not stopped – I still find myself waking up in the middle of the night and immediately frantically wondering if I’ve missed the latest ACT registration deadline. Yet what has changed is my ability to handle that stress. I’m better at knowing when to say no. I’m better at knowing when to ask for help. I’m better at accepting that not everything will be done perfectly.
- Perspective – I am a champion of the traditional four-year residential university experience. Moving away from home, making new friends, exploring new ideas and interests, learning about the world, growing as a young adult, finding yourself– I truly believe this is one of the most beneficial experiences a young person can have. And while I want everyone to have this experience, my time as a college adviser has taught me that this path is not the goal of every student – and that is OKAY. My path was the best path for me; that doesn’t mean it is the best path for I may have known that coming into this position, but may have not truly believe it. Yet embracing that truth has made me a better adviser.
- Confidence – I have no problem chatting up the president of the local community college, challenging my principal’s perspective on higher education, telling a student they’re being ridiculous, presenting in front of 100 fellow advisers from around the country, applying to “reach” graduate programs, cold-calling parents, explaining why yes, college is in fact for everyone, or admitting that I make no money and that’s just fine and dandy, thank you. You must have confidence to do this job.
- Respect for today’s youth – As a Millennial (hello, I’m writing this in listicle form), I’m used to my entire generation being told we’re awful, a disgrace, ruining the world, etc. And I admit that I’ve looked at Generation Z and had the “my generation wasn’t that lazy” moment. Yet I’ve had many more moments where my students have impressed me and taught me serious lessons. These kids are financially savvy. They grew up in the midst of the Great Recession and are therefore keenly aware of the importance of financial security. While that sometimes manifests in a severe aversion to debt, it also manifests in the understanding that getting some sort of postsecondary education is crucial. They do get it, they just want to go about it in a different way than my generation – mainly, debt free.
- An appreciation for K–12 educators – My mom was a teacher, so I thought I knew everything about what being a teacher meant. I knew they have to stay at school late, grade papers in the evening, put in hours over the summer. And all those things are true – but it is much. more. There is so much happening behind the scenes. New initiatives and priorities handed down by administrators, constantly getting pulled out of class for meetings, constantly having your students pulled out of class for meetings (my bad…), having to learn new technology – these are just some of the challenges teachers face in addition to simply teaching their students. And don’t even get me started on counselors and how overworked they are. It’s fitting that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week – it should really be every day.
- Fun – Capac High School’s prom is this weekend and I cannot wait. Most people roll their eyes and feel sorry for me when I tell them I’m chaperoning prom – and then can’t believe it when I tell them I volunteered. It’s fun to be back in high school! I’m not one of those “high school was the best time of my life” folks, come on, but it was a ton of fun. I get to enjoy the best parts of high school without the homework and soccer practice five days a week. Friday lunches with the front office staff, judging homecoming activities, chaperoning dances, watching band performances, attending the musical, cheering on the basketball team. Because we are only in our schools for two years, we’re allowed to fully enjoy these quintessential high school moments without the boredom or jadedness of long-time staff members. Take advantage!
- SO MANY TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS – Multi-tasking skills, decision-making skills, event planning skills, collaboration skills, communication skills, presentation skills, marketing skills, problem-solving skills. College advisers wear an infinite number of hats, and with each hat we put on, we build skills. I’ve never felt more confident interviewing for a job because I know that I have the skills to succeed at anything thrown my way.