I remember during high school being bombarded with phone calls, letters, and packages from colleges that wanted me to come to them. When it eventually came time to start applying to a few of them, I had an entire box filled with information pieces and pamphlets. Many of them were from the colleges near where I live, but I had also been contacted by universities in states much farther away from home. On the return address for every single one were the words “Office of Admissions.” It was fun to try to imagine what went on in admissions and what kind of preparation went into mailing information packets. But I never imagined that I would one day be the face on the other end of the postcard myself!
I joined LMU’s Office of Admissions as a Recruitment and Interaction Leadership Student (RAILS) at the start of my sophomore year. I had seen the RAILS all over campus my freshman year. Any time there was a big event going on, they were there to help out in their catchy blue shirts. It looked like so much fun! I asked LMU Erin, who was a RAILS at the time, how I could join the group. She told me to go to the office and fill out an application, and then they would call me back for an interview. I turned in my application toward the end of the spring semester and went for my interview just before the school year ended. They told me in my interview that spaces for new RAILS were limited, but they would let me know what they had decided before school started back that fall. So I went home for the summer and eagerly awaited the news.
I checked my mailbox nearly every day until a letter from the Office of Admissions finally arrived, but this time for a different reason: I had indeed been chosen for the new team of RAILS! I returned to campus a few days early and moved into my new apartment, and soon it was time for training. We did some team-building exercises to get to know names and had pizza for lunch, then we learned about the recent changes on campus. There were two new residence halls that had not been there the year before, and our math, science, veterinary, and nursing programs had all been moved into the new Math and Science Building. We also got a schedule of the required recruitment events for the year and were assigned work hours in the admissions office. Finally, we were given a script for campus tours that explained the route we would take and the important facts we needed to share at various points. It was a lot to remember, but giving practice tours to the experienced members helped me get it all down.
When school started the next week, it was time to get to work! Each one of us is required to work six hours per week in the office. During this time we put together information packets and label postcards for prospective students. We are always on standby for the campus tours, which we offer every day at 10:00am and 2:00pm. I begin in the office and talk about the rest of the student center, then take the student and his or her family all across campus. I take them inside a residence hall, as well as a classroom in Avery Hall, and a lab in our new Math and Science Building. Along the way I share with them the history of LMU and talk about the unique features of our education curriculum, such as the small class sizes and the required courses about Lincoln’s life. We end back at the student center with some last-minute questions for the admissions staff, and I encourage my group to get some coffee from the Campus Grounds or to go to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum before they leave.
Throughout the semester the RAILS also help out with special events sponsored by admissions. We hold luncheons in several cities where high school counselors can come hear about the great things happening for us. Once or twice a semester we also have Railsplitter for a Day, where high school students get the chance to spend the night in a residence hall and go to real classes with current LMU students. Preview Day, one of our biggest events, was actually what sealed the deal for me in choosing to go here. I was treated to information sessions and a free meal in the student center, and at the academic showcase I met professors and students from every department and club. These events are always so fun to put on, and students who come to them usually end up coming here themselves the next year!
Working in admissions is one of the most rewarding positions I’ve ever held. I love everything about my LMU experience, and helping other people make their own experience is the best feeling in the world. It’s especially exciting when I see people I’ve had on tours on campus the next year. It makes me happy to know I had a small but important part in their college decision, just like my tour guides and admissions counselors did for me when I was in that same place in my life not so long ago.