In the business vs. on the business

The most important job of a college counselor is, not surprisingly, college counseling. Sitting down with families and helping them manage a more successful, more enjoyable process isn’t just what people hire us for; it’s also what we do best.

But we can’t meet with students all day because they’re in school. And our busiest time—“Senior Season,” as we call it—runs from July-December. So during the spring, we spend as much time working on our business as we do in it.

Every two weeks, I send an email to everyone in the company asking one question: “What are you working on?” People who want to answer (participation is always optional) fill out a quick survey, and all the answers are shared with the entire company the next day. This has nothing to do with managing people or watching over them to make sure they’re working. Sharing what we’re all up to is one small way to help us feel a little more connected. We don’t all work in one building with each other. Our counselors are spread out all over the country and even internationally. But our regular work sharing lets us draw ideas and inspiration from each other. And if we see something that looks interesting, we can try it ourselves, or reach out and offer to pitch in.

Below, I’ve shared some sample responses from last week. Some are short, some long, some straightforward, some with levity—we don’t mandate how people should respond. And this is one of the few times when we don’t want to be sticklers about great writing. The key is for each coworker to have an opportunity to share whatever work update they’d like to share.

Schools, departments, clubs, organizations, businesses, etc.–we all get busy. We all struggle occasionally just to get the job done like we’ve been hired to do. But whenever you can, give yourself and everyone else the time, space, and opportunity to take on other projects, to improve, push, initiate, or otherwise go beyond what they’re hired to do. Work on your business rather than just in it, and you’ll probably be better—and happier—doing the jobs you were hired to do.

  • Speaking at a middle school, speaking at a college fair, speaking at an art consortium, then taking a break from speaking until May. Also onboarding our new counselor and hoping I don’t scare her away!
  • I am working on setting up our relatively new conference room for a presentation next week, editing activity summaries, sifting through the 2017 debrief to make it useable for everyone, and setting up our summer seminar series. Woot woot!
  • Hiring. We are still on the phone interview stage over here. Moving my office. Slowly building lots of IKEA furniture between student meetings. Eventually getting rid of my old furniture (which was just mine from home). Writing three months of the CW parent newsletter, the one we send to enrolled families. Prepping to present twice (two days, two topics) next week at the New Jersey NACAC college fair in Secaucus—the biggest college fair in the state. Prepping to present next week (on the same day as one of the college fair presentations!) at a local private high school. Meeting with my juniors, finalizing lists, and activity summaries. Meeting with sophomores who are starting college research. Meeting with freshmen who are wrapping up course planning and confirming summer plans. Signing lots of new underclassmen. Scheduling a few summer seminars. Trying to find time to write part of the nursing guide, but slipping on that for sure.
  • I’m LOVING having a partner in crime with the addition of our office’s new counselor and all the fun stuff that comes along with an expanding office. Preparing with the amazing 301 webinar team (there is going to be some meaty stuff for everyone—shameless plug for the May 3rd webinar–DON’T MISS IT!!!)… Working hard to start finalizing some of my 2018 kids’ lists and putting essay brainstorming meetings on the calendar.
  • I am hosting a counselor luncheon on May 9th. So right now I am just monitoring the registration and making plans for a final RSVP push. I am also gearing up for a few seminars during the next three months beginning this Sunday. I am also hiring a Community Organizer (yay!).
  • Lots of speeches, getting ready to present at the TACAC/SACAC/RMACAC Superconference, looking for a co-working space, and a couple of introductory meetings, too.
  • Quite a lot of speeches at night, but the bulk of my time is spent addressing the questions and concerns of my colleagues. I also write many emails that contain nary an explanation point while contemplating our ongoing path to global admissions dominion. Then I have tea.
  • Outreach! I’m excited that I’m in the process of setting up a formal relationship with the public library that will include seminars for students and families, and possibly training for librarians.
  • Prettifying our office for our new addition (she starts in June!). Hitting the financial outreach hard this week and meeting with financial advisors, banks, and equity firms about collaborative seminars and potential partnerships. Stalking my seniors about final decisions and sending out testimonial requests. Moving juniors to final lists and taking photos for our senior wall (how is this happening already?!).
  • Administering the employee engagement survey (please take yours if you haven’t already), preparing for upcoming management trainings in Seattle and NYC (East Coast bound!), updating some recruiting, hiring, and training resources, and drinking significantly more coffee since the arrival of kid #2.
  • With March SAT and April ACT scores available, the name of the game is Reach, Target, Likely/Safety lists! Also, preparing for Casey’s arrival and the 3rd office expansion!
  • Training, training, training, training, coffee, webinar, training, coffee. Also prepping for my NACAC fair speech on Sunday and testing pizza places with Joel. #priorities
  • I’ve had an ongoing project trying to get Yelp pages set up for all of the brick and mortar offices around the country. More and more people are using Yelp as a modern Yellow Pages, and we want to ensure that our contact information is correct in all of our various markets. Getting Yelp to assist us with this has proven much more difficult than anticipated. Next week is finally training week and I’m very excited to meet all the other new Wisers from across the country.
  • I just posted 2 new seminars that I’m excited about. Now, I’m working on getting them filled!
  • I am really excited to be pulling together the training for our new assistants and have enjoyed the process even though I have emailed Allison about it approximately 732 times. Also, getting my new counselor up to speed! It’s her first week and she’s handling it like a champ so far. She hasn’t run screaming from the building and her head hasn’t exploded from information overload (yet). If you other recent newbies want to give her some love and a pep talk, please do!
  • Two big things: revamping essay training materials, and starting the hiring process for new editors and proofreaders. Yay!
  • Training, training, training… Trying to learn all that is Collegewise! Currently staring at Kevin’s face on the on-demand training videos while I learn about intro meetings. My brain is on overload, but I am liking what I hear and am more affirmed I am in the right place! Hope to add to the awesomeness that you all already bring to the program!
  • Creating a one-man video production studio from scratch. I’m in concurrent pre-production on several video projects that will go public in mid-late June. You’ll start to see teasers in May. Working out visits to film in Austin and NY/NJ/CT, interviews with the leadership, and I’m looking for filming opportunities to film students/parents with some help from you guys. Working up several “pilot” projects for what will be a rich content stream on YouTube and Instagram, probably featuring y’all giving tips/advice/wisdom on all things college admissions. Bouncing ideas off leadership and counselors to make sure our content reflects the awesomeness within.