Every year in the second week of May, the SEC Enrollment/Admissions leaders meet at one of the member University’s campuses to talk about the year, plan out any group events and commiserate over the challenges that each of us have faced over the past year. The deposit deadline of May 1 will have just passed, and everyone roughly understands what their freshman and transfer classes will look like for the coming Fall. We are able to discuss issues such as the test optional/test required decision, working with different higher education vendors, the challenges of staffing shortages, our admission review procedures and the like. Many times, the best way to solve a problem is to talk to other people who deal with the same issues and challenges and get an understanding of what solutions they have discovered. If nothing else, it is just a good time to eat great food, explore other campuses, and share our problems among friends. The initial meeting of this group was at the University of Tennessee in 2007, and we came full circle with this year’s event coming back to Knoxville. I was actually the only person who was in attendance at the initial SEC Enrollment meeting, and it has been interesting to see the changes over the years, both in personnel and in schools. But the highlights of the meeting are not just the information we share or the food we eat. It’s seeing Mary from USC get a photo with every mascot statue she sees on any campus, many times sitting on top of the statue. It’s hearing Joffery from Auburn give playful grief to my UGA team about how we are going to match UT’s event. It’s seeing Torie from the SEC main office just sit back and smile knowing that we are all back together after 2 years of being virtual. Those are the real memories of the event.
Why am I telling you all about the SEC Enrollment meetings? Well, sometimes it fun just to write about fun times and good people. But beyond that, a big key for the admissions process is to find yourself a team that you can laugh with, commiserate with, and just share ideas with concerning the admissions process. This team can consist of your parents, your school counselor, teachers, friends and more. There don’t have to be any formal meetings, and not everyone has to be a part of every get-together. It could involve your best friend, or maybe someone you just met on a campus tour. It should be people you can go to if you have a question or who you can go to blow off some steam (or celebrate!). It is where you can share stories, ideas, complaints and excitement. It should not be about competition (who gets in where) or judgement (“you applied where?), but rather a group that will support you and each other. The college admissions process is tough for everyone involved, from the understaffed admissions offices to the counselors/teachers working with students to the applicants themselves hoping for good news. As such, your team should be a support structure to help you through this process, and hopefully you can help support other people as well. Too many times, students try to take on the admissions process on their own, and it can overwhelm them. Find your team, your support structure, and let them help you on this journey.
Good luck out there, and Go Dawgs!