Navigating the First Year as an Admissions Counselor: Insights from Lucy Coopman

Navigating the First Year as an Admissions Counselor: Insights from Lucy Coopman
by
Shelby Moquin
on
May 27, 2024
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About the Blog

Mission Admissions Podcast host, Jeremy Tiers, dove into the unique perspective of a young admissions counselor who's making waves in her first year on the job. Lucy Coopman from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Lucy's journey is particularly relevant as nearly half of all admissions counselors today have less than two years of experience, many of whom are in their twenties. 

From Engineering to Admissions

Lucy started her academic journey with a strong focus on engineering, influenced by her high school courses and her initial choice of Kansas State University. However, her path took an unexpected turn when she realized her passion for communication and relationship-building. This led her to switch her major to sociology and later, a desire to work in law enforcement. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted another reevaluation, ultimately steering her toward a career in higher education.

Lucy’s transition to higher education began with the K-State College Advising Corps, where she served as a college advisor in a Kansas City high school. This role allowed her to develop crucial skills in guiding students through their post-high school plans, which set the stage for her current position at UMKC.

Adapting to the Admissions Role

One of the biggest surprises for Lucy in her new role was the shift from long-term relationship-building in high school settings to the quick, impactful interactions required in college admissions. She emphasizes the importance of authenticity in these interactions, as students today are keenly attuned to genuine engagement. Lucy’s ability to quickly build trust through her authentic self has been a key factor in her success.

Balancing Professionalism and Relatability

Lucy discusses the challenge of balancing professionalism with relatability, particularly as a young admissions counselor close in age to the students she advises. Her strategy involves using humor and sharing personal interests to create a comfortable atmosphere, which helps students open up and feel supported. This approach is particularly effective with Gen Z students, who value emotional intelligence and authenticity.

Navigating Financial Aid Conversations

Discussing financial aid with students and parents can be daunting, especially given the current complexities with FAFSA delays. Lucy leverages her prior experience as a FAFSA expert to provide clear, honest guidance. She emphasizes the importance of viewing college as an investment and maintaining transparency about the costs and financial aid options. This empathetic approach helps ease the anxieties of both students and parents during the decision-making process.

Structuring a Productive Day

For admissions counselors, especially those constantly on the move, maintaining organization and productivity is crucial. Lucy relies on traditional methods like sticky notes and to-do lists, combined with modern tools like digital calendars and note-taking apps. Regular check-ins with supervisors also play a significant role in staying on track and receiving valuable feedback.

Advice for Leaders on Retaining Gen Z Staff

Lucy highlights the importance of transparency, office culture, and meaningful work in retaining Gen Z employees. Leaders should focus on providing clear communication about career development opportunities and celebrating small successes to foster a supportive and engaging work environment. Additionally, understanding the unique career attitudes of Gen Z, who often seek rapid advancement and diverse experiences, can help in creating effective retention strategies.

Key Takeaways:
  • Authenticity and genuine engagement are crucial in building trust with Gen Z students.
  • Balancing professionalism with relatability helps create a comfortable and supportive atmosphere for students.
  • Viewing financial aid conversations as an opportunity for transparent, empathetic guidance can ease anxieties for students and parents.
  • Maintaining organization and productivity requires a mix of traditional and modern tools, along with regular feedback from supervisors.
  • Retaining Gen Z staff involves transparent communication, celebrating successes, and fostering a supportive office culture.

For more insights and to hear the full conversation with Lucy Coopman, tune in to episode 42 of the Mission Admissions Podcast. Whether you're a new admissions counselor or a seasoned professional, Lucy's experiences and strategies offer valuable lessons for navigating the dynamic world of college admissions. 

Shelby Moquin
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