Each year, between the start of school and November 15, GDS hosts nearly 150 college representatives who come to our campus to give information about their institutions while meeting our students and learning about GDS. For any admissions officer, this “travel season” is both exhausting and invigorating.
In my past life as a college admissions officer, it meant booking flights, calling high schools to set up visits, and then facing the daunting task of packing for four or more weeks on the road, staying in hotels, eating alone in Paneras, and connecting with high school students and counselors around the country.
Despite the logistical efforts, I loved visiting high schools, and it may come as no surprise that GDS was my favorite trip every year. As I remember it, sitting around the table in the College Counseling office with a group of GDS students was a breath of fresh air, and that feeling is still echoed by our college representatives every year.
After each rep finishes meeting with our students, my college counseling colleagues Jenni, Greg or I will meet individually with them, and inevitably, one of their first comments is, “Wow, you have amazing students. I could have talked with them all day.” What seniors may not realize when they are laboring over essays and researching colleges for their ultimate lists is that everything they have learned at GDS makes them incredibly interesting and fun to engage. I listen in as our students connect easily with adults, ask interesting and unexpected questions (beyond, “do you have X major”), and prove, without trying, that they will be college students that any campus would be lucky to enroll. When college representatives are visiting four or five high schools a day, we are confident that they will remember GDS simply because of our engaging students.
If our college reps have time, we’ll take them on a tour of our campus, pointing out unique spaces like the Odradeck or the Forum, and they always love checking out the different murals around school. On one occasion, we watched a class in session, and the rep, a former professor said, “Wow, that teacher! She’s got it. I want to stay for this whole class.” By the time they leave our campus, especially if it is their first visit, we know that our reps get GDS. We convey as much as we can through our intentional conversations about the amazing curriculum and the exceptional things that our students are doing. Yet, we know that it’s their interactions with students that really tell the story of GDS.
For your college counselors, travel season means something different now than it did in our admissions days. It means attending a quick conference perhaps and then hunkering down and hosting everyone who steps through our doorway. It might not be quite as “glamorous” (though eating alone at Panera is hardly glamorous) as it once was, but it’s infinitely more rewarding watching our GDS students do what they do best: engage, explore, and act as the best ambassadors for our school that we could possibly imagine.