HOw does one work towards becoming an admissions counselor and or academic advisor?
I am working currently and belatedly on my bachelor's degree in psychology and education at SUNY Old westbury as an adult transfer student. But my REAL passion is and has been for a long time now, to work towards helping young people find the college of their choice and get into exciting degree programs and enjoy opportunities and resources that for, personal reasons, I was unable to obtain when I was a "traditional" student some years back. I see SO much potential in the undergraduate higher education collegiate experience, and I would LOVE to help younger students obtain and maximize and take full advantage of them, the way I SHOULD have when I was younger. Any advice would be appreciated greatly. Thanks so much. #college #higher-education
Hi there! I love your enthusiasm to help students find their passion. I worked in admissions at a commercial arts college for 16 years helping student find the right major in a design, media arts, culinary and fashion. Believe it or not, I landed the job because of my business background. Admission advisors are very different than academic advisor. Admission Advisors are the face of the college. They are recruiters and are on the “sales” side of the college. You have to have great people skills, ethics, be a great listener, problem solver and have lots patience. It’s a rewarding career but can be a stressful one as admissions departments will focus on numbers and constant growth. My department had admissions advisors from varying degrees but they all had a sales background and the ability to generate growth for a company. The path is different from the academic advisor path but I would recommend that you follow the advice of the two previous responders. In this field you want to have mobility. The burnout rate is high for admissions counselors. If you can do both, you’ll be able to enjoy a longer more rewarding career. Good luck!
Seth Daniel Bernstein
Seth Daniel’s Answer
First, while you are an undergraduate I strongly recommend that you either seek internships in educational environments, and/or volunteer your time to advise students. The idea is to begin to build experience and a track record in student advising. Be careful to only provide advise or guidance within your scope of knowledge. For example, if you have first hand experience with applying for financial aid related to enrollment at SUNY, you could develop a workshop for that and volunteer to present the information at a local high school.
With respect to obtaining a paid position in a secondary or post-secondary institution providing advice to college-bound or current college students, you would be well-served to work on a Master's degree (and any required credentialing) after completing your undergraduate work. When you research graduate programs, focus on the Master's degrees offered by the Education Departments and potentially the Counseling Departments at the universities that interest you. You will find some Master's degrees that are laser-focused on student development and advising, and others that are more generalized, but be aware that they vary among different universities, even within university systems such as SUNY. "School Counseling" programs and related credentials generally apply to advising and counseling high school students; other programs are more relevant to counseling college students.
Another option is "Educational Consulting" which most often entails working with prospective college students. These two websites will help you learn what kind of qualifications and experience you need to pursue the most highly recommended qualifications for this field: https://www.hecaonline.org/ and https://www.iecaonline.com/
As far as I know, this field may not be formally regulated, but if you are planning to work in it, I recommend that you are at least working toward the best possible credentialing and education needed to compete with those accomplished in the field.
Congratulations on a great career aspiration!
Serge V.’s Answer
You sound just like me. When I graduated college and completed my graduate degree, my passion was to work in the higher education field. I love giving advice and helping students to figure out what path should they take during their colllegjate career. I started out obtaining an internship and volunteering. You should speak to the Career Development Department at your college to see how can you get experience when you complete your Bachelor’s Degree even if you have to volunteer or do an internship. Let me know how it goes for you.
I'm going to echo quite a bit of what Dr. Bernstein said earlier, including congratulating you on contemplating this line of work. I've been working as an academic counselor, adviser, and coach for about 7 years now. This being my second career. (My first career was as a writer and editor and lasted about 12 years.)
My case was slightly different in that I didn't originally set out specifically to do higher education advising. I set out to do counseling. So I identified counseling programs in my area (DC) and applied to a few. To backtrack a moment, I first had to take four behavioural science courses to qualify for the master's programs I was investigating. I was an English Literature major the first go around, and lacked enough behavioural science credits to qualify. As a psychology major, you won't have that trouble.
My master's was in what they called "community counseling," which was a bit of a catch-all. But when I decided I wanted to work in higher education after graduation, I began to tailor my experiences to that goal. So my year-long internship was in the career services office at a local university. And things took off from there.
Over the years, my colleagues have mostly had master's degrees, and mostly in human services of one sort or another. Social work, school counseling, etc. Some have had degrees in something more specifically higher education related, as mentioned earlier. College personnel for instance. Some have had master's in something seemingly unrelated (e.g., economics or criminal justice) but have found their way into the field through work experience. (The economics major had an earlier job in financial aid, for instance, which she parlayed into work as an adviser.)
You'll find that, depending on the school and the specific role, the education requirements will vary. Where I started out, "advisers" didn't need a master's degree (though the majority of them had one) and "counselors" did. We were technically faculty at the community college, teaching a college success skills course. But the core duties were very similar between advisers and counselors. I expect you'll find similar results if you begin looking at job listings for that sort of role somewhere like HigherEdJobs.com.
That would be a good place to start actually, to give you a sense of the breadth of this field. Pay attention to the differences across kinds of institutions and within particular programs as well. Larger schools might have more specialized roles (e.g., academic adviser for a particular program, like nursing). Smaller schools might have their advisers take broader roles. My experience in this field has been almost exclusively at the community college level. And, more specifically, for two programs in the DC region that serve the needs of traditionally underrepresented student populations (e.g., first-generation students). Within those programs, we get cross-trained in a lot of different functions of advising, from financial aid to degree completion and transfer planning.
If you've got specific questions, I'd be glad to try and answer them. But, in the meantime, know that you're on the right track with a psychology program. And it's a really rewarding field you're considering.
Take care Marc.