Get to Know - Gabriel Hernández Acosta

Ever want to know more about your fellow Iowa ACAC members? Our regular Get to Know You articles are here to help you do just that!  Learn a little about one of our "star" (literally) members, Gabriel Hernández Acosta.

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Visit the Hill 2023

I don’t think I would be too far off in assuming that everyone reading this has a passion for education and cares about the educational well being of the students we work with. An easy way to put that care into action is to learn more about how legislation can affect the accessibility of education for students in Iowa.

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My Life as an International Advisor

Do you know how it feels to go to another country and not know anybody? Or not know what to do? As the Coordinator of International and Multicultural Connections, I get to meet with a lot of students from different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures. When you work in higher education, you need to make sure to understand your role as an advisor; you want to make students feel like they can achieve the impossible and every goal is doable. Even when you have all the years under your wing and know all the tricks regarding advising students, sometimes that isn’t enough to connect with students.

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Preventing Senior Slide

Always a danger during any point of senior year, the dreaded senioritis hits high schools each year. Sometimes it peaks after fall sports have ended while other times it peaks after students return from winter break. Some seniors let grades slip and assignments slide, attributing to boredom or lack of motivation to finish strong.

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Favorite Holiday Treats

I don’t know about everyone else, but one of my favorite things about this time of year is getting to taste test all the fun treats that people make. We always have at least one day around the holidays that our office brings food to share, and it is always a good time to see what every one else’s favorite snacks are. Here is a list of some of the ones that I look forward to each year!

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#StrongerTogether: 2022 ISCA Annual Conference

“It’s like a family reunion!”  

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November, Gratitude!

With temperatures cooling down and the recent time change, fall is among us and so is the month of Thanksgiving. As Admissions professionals, we can get caught up in the preparation of who can open their application first and get the biggest head start to applicants, what college has the most impressive materials to share with prospective students and who has the most fall visits scheduled for students to have the most amazing experience.

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Professional School Counselors: An Urging for Proper Titles

Last week I received a letter in my school mail from a college in Iowa. It was addressed to, “Instructors, guidance counselors, and  administration.” I cringed. Nothing ruffles my feathers more in education than being called a “guidance counselor.”  It is 2022 and the profession of school counseling has been around since the early 1900’s. It has evolved and adapted to modern and current times, yet somehow, the title of guidance counselor has been hard to shake. 

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Observations from Fall Travel

It is the first fall travel season that has been somewhat normal in a couple of years. Or was it? Since my team is wrapping up their fall travel season soon, I asked them to reflect on their experiences. We have a mix of seasoned counselors and new college graduates on our staff, so it has been interesting to see their various experiences when they roll in each Friday. While some of these observations have been happening over time, we have noticed that some are more prevalent now than ever. How does your fall travel compare?

  • Students aren’t sure what they are looking for in a school or what they want to study. This doesn’t seem like a big surprise, right? However, it seems to be paralyzing to some students this year. They don’t even know where to start.
  • Parents are very involved in the process and doing things for the student. Ah, helicopter parenting at its finest! We know parents have been filling out applications in the past, but it seems to be on a whole new level.
  • Students are moving slower in the application process this year and are generally overwhelmed with the thought of college. We have spent the last couple of months trying new strategies for outreach to meet students where they are.
  • There’s always a group of highly motivated students. Even though some students are uncertain about the next steps, you can always count on a group of go-getters to be on top of everything. Thank goodness!
  • Students are more open to learning about schools they have never heard of. Hogwarts? No, Wartburg. (Like we’ve never heard that one before!)
  • College fairs were better this year than last year, but still not as good as they were pre-pandemic. It seems that fewer schools are busing in students, and more schools are having their own fairs. Evening fairs were not as well attended either.
  • Students seem less interested or available to meet with admission counselors at the high school. I feel like we’ve been moving in this direction for a while. Students are taking college courses while in high school and getting practical work experience as a part of their curriculum. Others have already been on campus and feel they don’t need to connect.
  • Some students think they need to decide on a school before applying. How can we all be more transparent and helpful in communicating application options to students?
  • Our school counselor friends are working with more students with mental health challenges than ever. School counselors are juggling so much. How can we assist them with college search resources and take some of their load off? (Please tell us; we all want to help!)
 
Niche just released research conducted with over 20,000 students in their Class of 2023 Fall Senior Survey. 97% of the student responses reported fears about the college search process. It is disheartening to think that so many are nervous about the application process, financial aid, and choosing the best college for them when we all have an admission staff eager to help. As we enter the middle of the admission cycle, I encourage you to think about new ways to reach students, whether it is through their school counselors, parents, virtual events, or simply buying a student a cup of coffee. Students need us now more than ever! Best wishes as you continue to work through this complicated recruitment cycle!

#NACAC2022 c/o Instagram!

The annual NACAC conference was hosted in Houston, TX. I had the pleasure of taking over our Iowa ACAC social media for a few days to bring you highlights of the conference. I’m recapping the trip in case you missed our stories! 

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Changes of Scenery

Congratulations to these folks on their life milestones and welcome to all of our new professionals!

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Wearing Many Hats on Campus: Building Relationships and Earning Trust

In July 2007, Central College thankfully took a chance on one of its young, inexperienced, recent graduates to become a Residence Hall Director. While that may not seem that unordinary, I had not been an RA or worked in Residence Life as a student, so I likely was not the prototypical candidate they may have been looking for. While this was not the job I thought I would end up with out of college, I was thankful to be able to re-join the campus community that had supported me academically, socially, athletically, and spiritually. 

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Get to Know - Steph Peters

It’s time for another fun Get to Know segment! This time we’re hearing from longtime Iowa ACAC member Stephanie Peters, from Morningside University!

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Put Yourself Out There

September brings many “firsts” for new counselors. First college fair, first long road trip (or for some, first time flying solo) or first time getting lost on your way to a high school. It’s no surprise that the entire first year is a learning curve for new counselors, both on the high school and college side. 

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Top Ten Goals for Fall

I, like many of you I am guessing, both look forward to and dread fall at the same time! Miles of travel, hours at fairs and events, endless emails –  it’s hard to take time to enjoy the everyday pleasures of fall. But this year I’m making a goal to enjoy fall a bit more, and I hope you will, too!

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Iowa Summer Bucket List

As the start of school is approaching, I know it can feel like all the fun summer activities go out the window. And while schedules definitely get busier, remember that we still have a couple months of sweltering heat left in Iowa! There is time to check off those last remaining summer bucket list items. You’re likely going to be spending a lot of time in cars and hotel rooms before you know it, so I recommend enjoying the outdoors while you still can!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I know, there aren’t fireworks, champagne or silly hats and glasses, but it’s just as important for us in education.

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Road Warrior Survival Guide

August is here and school supplies are flying off the shelves. This can only mean one thing: admissions recruitment travel season is right around the corner. Whether you are new to the field or have earned your “road warrior” status years ago, surviving travel season comes much easier with preparation. Here are my tips and tricks learned during 10+ years navigating the rolling hills (interstates, highways, brick, gravel and sometimes even dirt roads) of Iowa behind the wheel of a college-branded car:

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MIDWest 2022 - Recap & Highlights

In September of 2019, the MIDWest conference planning committee (with representatives from all four affiliates), met in Madison, WI to start the process of planning our 2020 MIDWest conference. We were so excited to explore Madison, put together some wonderful sessions based around our theme (2020 Vision), and connect with colleagues across state lines. When the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to our in-person conference plans, we decided to postpone by one year and try again in 2021. Of course, the pandemic continued, and we wound up pivoting to a virtual format (is anyone else really tired of that phrase?) for the 2021 MIDWest Conference. It was a great experience, but definitely not the same as the

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A Decade Later: Thoughts on the profession after 10 years

The admissions profession is often described as a career where an individual works for either one to two years, or a lifetime. As I begin my tenth year in the field, it seems I am much closer to a lifetime status designation, and much further from the first-year admission counselor I once was. Asked to write an essay for the Iowa ACAC spring newsletter, I decided to provide some thoughts, and hopes, to those new to the admission counseling profession. You have embarked on an amazing journey, and have the opportunity to make a positive impact on countless students’ lives. I hope you embrace the responsibility, and maybe become an admissions lifer.

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