By Amy Hammer
It is safe to say that the role of an admission counselor serves the purpose of guiding students toward a college education to, ultimately, pursue a career based on their passions, life aspirations, and general interests. Ironically, very few prospective students come into college with the intention of starting a career in admissions. However, most professionals in the industry admit to “falling into” the role. The ever-changing landscape of higher education is comprised of fresh faces and well-established lifers. We explore a compilation of admission perspectives as told by professionals at different points in their careers and observe how their varying years of experience influence their view on the admission process. For the first few posts you will be introduced to our three contributors: April Crabtree of USF, Julio Mata of Miami University, and Joel Ontiveros of UCLA.
“The Seasoned Professional” – 10+ years
April Crabtree – Director of Undergraduate Admission at University of San Francisco
- Alma Mater: Eckerd College (Bachelors), University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Masters)
- Hometown: Knoxville, TN
I am in admissions because of NASA. If you had asked me two years ago or five years ago or when I interviewed for my first admissions job, I wouldn’t have told you that. Now, years later, I can say with some certainty that the United States space program launched me into the world of higher education and guided me to admissions, specifically.
I didn’t fail my astronaut training. In fact, I never made it that far, but from a very young age I was enamored by outer space. When I was a kid, I bought a picture of the Earth, photographed from space. It cost fifty cents and hung in a cheap frame by my bed from the time I was eight years old until I went to college. I loved everything about space and I desperately wanted to be an astronaut.
Looking back, it wasn’t the astrophysics. It wasn’t really becoming a payload specialist or flying the shuttle. It was about hope. As a potential first generation college student, everything was a great exciting unknown that only a select few, from my view, had previously experienced. When I sat in my first college class, the world began to open like the view into space. Everything was possible. Everything was interesting. And I had the opportunity to explore and learn about things that I’d never heard about before. There was hope that my life was going to change. The future was (and is still) a great unknown but there’s so much promise, so many bright eyes looking into their own outer space and imagining the possibilities. When I work with students, I can see that same glimmer that I once had.
My first job was at Eckerd College, my alma mater. I took the job after finishing my Master’s degree until I could figure out what I wanted to do next, but within my first year, I was hooked. This was what I was supposed to do. Everything was interesting to me, and I wanted to learn about anything I could. My boss, John Sullivan, was there to give me those opportunities (and reign me in when I was too excited) but that interest in learning more gave me the chance to touch just about everything in our small office. If someone asked me today what they should do to prepare for a leadership role in admissions, I would, without hesitation, tell them to work for a small school where they will have the opportunity to experience and learn about so many facets of this career.
I’m now the Director of Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment at the University of San Francisco. Although I can no longer name all the moons of Saturn, I am still curious and filled with the hope of possibility and nothing is more exciting than seeing that same spark within students as they dream of their college plans. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about – the opportunity within the unknown. Yet even today, if you asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I’ll still, every time, tell you I want to be an astronaut.