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Your Counselors Are Unhappy … Do Something About It

Your Counselors Are Unhappy … Do Something About It

There are actions admissions directors can take today to improve job satisfaction on their team.

Admissions Directors cannot solve most problems leading to unhappy admissions counselors. But you are not powerless. You can and should do things right now to improve your team’s work environment.

It will be no surprise to anyone reading this that there is a staffing crisis in admissions. At every level, from new counselors to experienced vice presidents, there has been an exodus out of admissions and off college campuses.

I myself am one of the recent campus exiles – so the discussions at the NACAC conference were of particular interest. There were several sessions about The Great Resignation, the buzz throughout the exhibit hall was about offsetting staffing challenges, and perhaps the most telling indicator – the longest line was not at Starbucks; it was at the free headshot booth.

Indeed, The Great Resignation has hit us hard and it is showing no signs of slowing down.

While I am not professing to know all the reasons or offer all the solutions, there are a few elements within the control of admissions directors.

Here are a few things to consider. In the coming weeks, I’ll make sure to unpack each point with some ideas on what you can do today to reduce the likelihood of one of your counselors resigning tomorrow.

Why are counselors unhappy in their work? Hare are three reasons that you do have direct control over:

  • They’re told to build relationships with families, but ‘having great conversations’ with students already likely to enroll does not equal hitting enrollment goals. When they feel good about the students they talk to but the numbers don’t come in, they can feel defeated, and, worse, misled.
  • Admissions directors are usually unable to clearly and plainly show which students in an admit pool need a personal, time-intensive intervention from their counselor. In the absence of that, we are giving them call lists that are way too long, or worse, not asking them to call because the long lists were dispiriting.
  • The internal motivations of an admissions counselor do not neatly align with the most effective recruitment strategies. When left to prioritize their outreach (so as not to leave them feeling micromanaged), they end up spinning their wheels on comfortable, efficient communication methods that are not effective.

As an admissions director, you may be unable to change salary levels, although you should try.

You cannot set the terms of the on-campus / work-from-home expectations of University leadership.

It is not in your power to make the student decision process easy and comfortable for admissions counselors.

But you can and should take action to improve the three pain points above that your admissions counselors are struggling with.

Teege Mettille
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