Having parents as educators can help one pursue some of the same professional passions. For Adam Stoltz, Director of Admissions at California State University, Chico (Chico State) that has definitely been the case.
“My parents were a really big influence on making my career in education.” Stoltz’s parents instilled the life-long learner frame of mind and also traveled all over the country (he’s been to 48 states), which led to his affinity for states in the west.
Originally from Illinois, Stoltz embarked on his educational journey at Culver-Stockton College, in Missouri, where he majored in arts management with a computer science minor. At Culver-Stockton he was able to play baseball, participate in multiple music/theatre programs and get involved with various campus organizations. “I always like to do a lot of different things and that type of college setting (smaller school) was beneficial for me.”
Stoltz started working in admissions at Culver-Stockton following his graduation. He moved to St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA to work in their admissions office and earned a graduate degree in organizational leadership during his time there.
The progressive changes happening in higher education while Stoltz was at St. Ambrose encouraged him to make a career out of college admissions. “I realized that it was a good career path for me, both of my parents were educators in the K-12 system.”
After earning his master’s degree, Stoltz decided that he wanted to continue his own education. He found employment at Saint Louis University and started working in their admissions office. Stoltz completed his EdD in higher education administration at Saint Louis and started looking for ways to enhance his experience in college admission.
Opportunity for career advancement came in 2009 for Stoltz and he became Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Nevada, Reno. During his time in Reno, Stoltz was able to work on various marketing and communication projects with the team at Nevada which helped with collaborating across the entire campus.
Six years later, the opportunity to direct the Chico State Office of Admissions opened up and Stoltz has filled the role since June 2015. He reflects back and uses some of the skills his father taught him about how offices work, communication channels and overall structure of an organization.
Relatively new to the role as Director of Admissions at Chico State, Stoltz has new insights on what his position means. Lately he sees “helping and mentoring new professionals” as the greatest reward of his job. Stoltz recently discovered his love for helping others and didn’t realize he was doing it until someone told him he was a really good mentor. “This is a new discovery for me and I’ve taken a liking to help younger staff and even some seasoned staff learn about the profession and how to help them grow.”
The challenge of working in college admissions is that each day is different and brings on a new challenge. “It may be one thing one day and we rarely see things too many times,” said Stoltz. He says admission leaders need to wear multiple hats because they need to know financial aid, how to crunch numbers, how to bring people together for a common goal and many other things. All factors lead to it being the greatest challenge because one “can’t just focus on one thing at a time and have multiple things going on at the same time.”
The motivating factor for Stoltz continuing to work in college admissions is the fun and inspiring challenge of mentoring and seeing individuals grow in their role and career. “It’s great to see people in education; we are supposed to learn and grow and do things within our skillsets and see how these things come together.” Leading admissions professionals is a great opportunity to mentor and teach for Stoltz.
With over 20 full-time staff and additional student workers, Stoltz has great responsibility in guiding his office. He traces back to his roots of attending and working at many different types of institutions (private, public, spiritual-based, land grant, etc.). With his background, he can show others what types of opportunities are available in higher education and how one way of carrying out duties or projects may work at one school and not at the other.
Odds & Ends
Social media has changed the college admission world. With Facebook and other outlets, Stoltz sees students self-discovering and using these sites and programs to learn about what is going on from current students at universities they are interested in attending. With social media, “word of mouth travels to many people and very quickly.”
The increased technology of how information travels and how students apply can also explain the trend of students applying to multiple campuses while increasing application volume at universities across the country. Stoltz says managing more and more applications is a challenge because yield rates and enrollment targets are affected by increased applicant volume.
Admission staff need to find ways to disengage from the work and stay mentally and physically fit. Stoltz encourages his staff at Chico State to go out for walks and take advantage of on-campus facilities, like the recreation center. “You can’t always be working and need to find some time for yourself and a work-life balance.”
Professionals newer to the admissions world sometimes need to step back and listen to and read as much as possible. Stoltz recommends attending guest lectures, professional conferences, and finding someone that knows higher education to learn more about university offices and departments. Stoltz reminisces on his own experiences and recalls; “I have a passionate sense for marketing, so when I was at Saint Louis and Nevada I got engrained with the marketing office which helped me connect with the bigger picture of the university.”
Universities are a place for learning and anyone can find information related to what they are interested in. “If you have a passion for something, you have those opportunities to pursue them.”