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A Day in the Life of an OUA Road Warrior


Posted by Carolyn Pippen on Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dallas, Texas: one of my many homes-away-from-home

Hello Nashville!  I have just returned from 8 weeks of travel, and I could not be happier to be back in Music City.  That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed my second travel season with Vanderbilt OUA, and a part of me will miss the constant bustle and excitement of life on the road.  I wanted to share with all of you what travel season is really like for our admissions counselors, so I picked a relatively typical day and kept an hour-by-hour account of my activities.

Disclaimer: Just like no two high schools, no two districts, and no two regions of the country are alike, no two days of travel will ever be the same.  On this particular day I was recruiting in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and my schedule was just packed enough that I felt like it would be fairly representative of the traveling admissions experience.  However, even on the best planned days, you never know what’s going to happen…

6:00 AM: Wake up and get ready for the day!  I make a note to grab my name tag, schedule of events, notes on each high school that I’m visiting, brochures to distribute, and – most importantly – the Hampton Inn coffee and blueberry muffin that has become my breakfast ritual.

8:00 AM: Arrive at my first high school visit.  The counselor has given passes to any students interested in talking with the Vanderbilt representative, so I meet with about 20 juniors and seniors in a classroom to discuss academics, student life, admissions, and financial aid, and to answer all of their questions.  I meet with the counselor afterwards so that she can update me on some changes to that particular school’s curriculum and give some context for a few students who will be applying this year.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

10:00 AM: School visit number two is a little bit different.  This time I post up in the guidance counselor’s office with my brochures (which you can now view on our homepage) and contact cards and a handful of students come in to ask questions throughout the forty-five minute period.

11:30 AM: Travel season teaches you many things about the world.  For example, I now know that the fastest it is humanly possible to eat a Subway sandwich and yogurt parfait while sitting in a rental car in a high school parking lot is 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

12:00 PM: School visit number three is what we call a “lunch visit,” which means I’m sitting at a table in the hallway outside the cafeteria, speaking to students and answering questions as they wander in and out of the lunchroom.

2:00 PM: I have a little bit of time to kill, so I use my GPS to find the nearest public library.  I use the free hour, and the free wireless internet, to catch up on some student emails and chat with Ryan about our blog posts for the week.

3:30 PM: Drive to Starbucks to meet with the college access coordinator at a local community-based organization (CBO) that works to help a variety of students in the Dallas area through the college search and application process.  While we do not have time to visit every single high school in each of our territories, all Vanderbilt admissions counselors work with many kinds of organizations to reach out to qualified students in a number of ways.

5:30 PM: Arrive at a local high school to set up for that evening’s college fair.  I catch up with the admissions representatives on either side of me who I see a few times a year (what’s up Valparaiso and Villanova!) while scarfing the boxed lunch the school has graciously provided for us.  The fair runs from 6 to 8, and I spend those two hours talking to students and parents from several surrounding schools who stop by to ask questions and talk about all things Vanderbilt.

My dog Delta - traveling for Vanderbilt is fun, but how can you not miss this face??

8:30 PM: Get back to my hotel and head to the fitness center for a decompressing workout.

9:30 PM: Make some notes about each of my events for that day, writing down how many students I saw and the things I need to remember about each school and group of students when it comes time to read applications.  I check my email one last time, shoot some motivating texts to my fellow counselors finishing their days all over the country, then head to bed.

Sheesh, I got tired again just typing that.  While I miss my daily blueberry muffin and the wonderful conversations I had with students all over Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas this fall, I am grateful to be back home in Nashville.  More importantly, I am excited to start reading the applications submitted by those wonderful students and learning in more detail about the incredible things they’ve been doing in the classroom and in their local communities.

As for life on the road, I will see you next year!


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