The work we do in college admission is incredibly rewarding. As we’re entering a new age of college admission that will be uniquely different as our field is experiencing its biggest shift in connecting with students, families, and each other arguably since the internet. It is incredibly important we all take a moment and reflect. As I reflect on why I said yes to the call to serve, I cannot help but think about my Summer Institute or New Counselor Institute experience in the Illinois ACAC.
It was the first time I heard the phrase “3 or 30?” This is a something more seasoned admission professionals often say to newer professionals about when you’ll know whether or not the field of college admission is for you. I will save you the long-winded montage about the joy and anxiety this phrase gave me (and my peers)… and suggest you re-watch your favorite coming-of-age movie to relate to the feeling.
For me, it compared to watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie resonated with me—and many—because we empathized with Miles Morales’ fears and dreams, which beautifully intersected with his Afro-Latino heritage. What stood out during his moments of vulnerability and bravery was the willingness of others to pay it forward, educating him about his powers and impact.
This got me to thinking about our many opportunities to create moments in another person’s origin story, and how we should challenge ourselves to think even further than “3 or 30?”
I still didn’t know until my fifth year as a professional staff member if college admission was for me. Moreover, what keeps me in this profession has as always been the people. Others who create a sense of belonging empowers me to keep saying yes to the call—to serve, educate, and create belonging for others. Peers and mentors (unofficial and official) keep creating moments of learning that help me understand strategic recruitment, elevate my involvement within an affiliate, and grapple with the biases in our work.
To facilitate more moments like these, NACAC has created the Professional Certificate in College Admission for Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The goal: to invest in and equip new professionals so they can grow into leaders who pay it forward. The program will build a more inclusive, welcoming NACAC—community, and as the program grows, ELP will help us enrich, retain, and revitalize our profession.
I am thrilled to work with such an amazingly diverse and multifaceted ELP faculty as we usher in a new era of college admission best practices by creating shared national knowledge. Our dream for the future graduates of ELP is they will strengthen their respective affiliates, emerging as the future leaders of our profession boldly navigating a new wave of college of admission as professionals who are advocating for families and engaging others firmly rooted in equity, access, and kindness.
NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez has asked us are we ready for 2030. ELP is one way we can confidently say yes! This is an opportunity to be a part of a new counselor’s origin story. Please play your part in helping create moments of learning and support for your new admission professionals by sending them to ELP!
Emma Adebayo is an associate director of admissions at Washington University in St. Louis and the program director of ELP.
The ELP curriculum is currently being built. More details will be posted soon on the NACAC website, nacacnet.org/elp.
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