Curated by Amy Hammer
For some of us, travel season is coming to a finish while for others, there are still several more weeks to go. Whichever side of the desk you may sit on, the fall brings a high level of traffic and movement for admission and counseling professionals. Naturally, this week’s topic encompasses travel season, since so much can happen in such a short period of time.
I recently finished the book “How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will).” Upon completing this survival gem, it occurred to me that travel season and gnome attack preparation have a lot in common. The four phases are Assess, Protect, Defend, and Apply. Yeah, travel season is JUST like preparing yourself and your gnome sweet home for battle.
Assess: First things first, are you ready for travel season? Have you carefully mapped your visits? Are you a Marriott or a Hilton (your hotel is your gnome away from home after all)? If you have done a complete assessment, you’re ready for travel…but are you really? Don’t get cocky, that’s how it all goes bad.
Protect: Assessment is never enough. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the dangers of gnomeownership, it’s that no matter what plan you may have, always be flexible, be agile, be ready to present to a 9th grade English class on essays, for the visit with 78 students signed up, and for the visit that was accidentally scheduled during an in-service day. And when you finally walk those halls of swinging backpacks when the bell rings, protect yourself, you’re all you’ve got, kid. THIS is gnome man’s land.
Defend: Know your territory and network those counselors. But let us not forget self-defense. Flu shots and hand sanitizer, my friends. While a gnome will slay you with a tiny scythe when you least expect it, the sheer volume of germs that will cross your palms, the pens on your table, and the glorious completed inquiry cards in your bag makes the CDC shudder. These are just simmering petri dishes of certain and unimaginable doom.
Apply: For the roadwarriors out there, apply what you’ve learned. Sometimes the unthinkable will happen and your P-Card will be declined, you’ll spill pumpkin spice latte on your white shirt, or you’ll accidentally reply all at the worst possible time. But as I was reminded in the final chapters of this survival guide “This is not the end. Stop praying and start thinking. You know that others have been there – and lived to tell about it.” This above all, to thy gnome self be true.
Travel season is a lot of work but a lot of laughs. Enjoy the friends you make and come on gnome to the office, we miss you. There’s gnome place like home. Now, I have to get back to digging a moat around my college fair table, I saw tiny crop circles on my way into the fair.
Travel season is one of my favorite times of the year, but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, meeting prospective students and families is extremely rewarding and why we are in this line of work. However, I enjoy few things more than swapping travel stories with fellow road warriors. Everything from celebrity sightings at a Starbucks in Los Angeles, to all kinds of traffic horror stories, to commiserating over early morning flights, jam-packed schedules and catching every single NPR fund drive in our recruitment territories. So next time you check into a hotel and get upgraded to the Presidential Suite for your 8 hour stay there or have a harrowing tale of your search for a restroom between high school visits because of how well hydrated you are (Thank you for all the bottles of water, high school counselors!!), share the story with another rep who understands that life you are living every fall.
Travel season. In my office we joke that Fall recruitment is like riding a rollercoaster. While slowly ascending the steep and intimidating incline, we are in the midst of calling school counselors, registering for college fairs, booking flights, and reserving hotels and car rentals. At the top of the gargantuan summit, we look down ahead of us at all the upcoming presentations, conversations, and questions to answer about our university. As we plummet down the drop, however, we unexpectedly hit the hairpin turns and loop-de-loops of flight delays, misplaced business cards, and quick lunch stops before moving onto the next school. Slowly coming to a halt at the end of the ride feeling exhausted, whiplashed, and missing our beds at home; we can’t help but smile when looking back at the few pictures we were able to snap during the ride. Meals with families or colleagues that we were able to reconnect with amongst the chaos of the ride. This Fall, I enjoyed riding the recruitment rollercoaster for a second time. And while I do love traveling, visiting new places, and meeting new students and their families, I did also miss my bed the past few months!