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8 Jobs in College Admissions

Higher education is an incredibly exciting field. Colleges and universities can shape and guide the direction students take with their careers, as well as prepare them for life beyond school. While teachers and professors are responsible for providing the student body with the knowledge and experience needed to be successful in their field, admissions plays an equally important role in student success. Here's an overview of college admissions, as well as 8 admissions jobs you can pursue.

What Is College Admissions?

College admissions is the process of helping prospective students move from a prospect to full-time enrolled student. Admissions staff members are often the first point-of-contact at an institution, so it’s essential that they represent their school well and clearly guide students and parents through the application process. This is often accomplished using the admissions funnel, which is a visual representation of the journey a student takes while applying to colleges.

The admissions funnel has six primary stages:

  • Prospects: Prospective students who haven't yet taken any action
  • Inquiries: Those who've downloaded an offer or otherwise expressed interest in a college or university
  • Applicants: Prospective students who've submitted an application to your institution
  • Admits: Applicants who've been accepted, but haven't yet submitted a deposit
  • Deposits: Admits who've submitted a deposit, and committed to your school
  • Enrolls: Matriculated students who've completed onboarding and registered for classes

Higher Education Admissions Funnel

The goal of college admissions is to guide prospective students through the funnel. Varying positions in admissions take different strategies to accomplish this, but they all have the objective of matriculating the right students for their institution—those who’ll gain the most value from attending that particular college.

8 College Admissions Jobs

College admissions is an exciting field that offers collaborative and engaging career opportunities. Job seekers looking to work in higher education administration have a wide range of career prospects to select from, depending on their experience and education. According to data from EMSI Burning Glass, these are the most common job postings in college admissions:

  1. Admissions Counselors/Representatives: Admissions counselors are responsible for a wide variety of tasks to assist prospective students. They host events like college fairs and webinars, as well as interview prospective students. Admissions counselors also evaluate applications and recommend decisions. On top of that, admissions counselors are tasked with ancillary responsibilities. This may include serving as a liaison with various departments, assisting with student tour guides, or collaborating with the alumni network.
  2. Directors of Admissions (or Deans of Admissions): Directors of admissions are responsible for overseeing the admissions staff. They also lead an institution’s admissions policies and processes, including defining admission standards, finalizing application decisions, and implementing recruitment strategies.
  3. Associate Directors of Admissions: Associate directors of admissions operate underneath directors of admissions, assisting in the planning and implementation of recruitment strategies. They oversee a team of admissions staff, and are responsible for training and supervising them.
  4. Assistant Directors of Admissions: Assistant directors of admissions complete the same tasks as admissions counselors, but have additional responsibilities such as project management and implementation, and developing advanced knowledge on topics such as financial aid and recruitment strategy. Unlike associate directors, however, they don’t oversee staff.
  5. Interviewers and Readers: Interviewers and readers are part of the seasonal admissions team, meaning they typically work on a temporary, part-time, or volunteer basis. Interviewers conduct interviews of prospective students, act as a resource during the interview process, and provide notes to admission teams for consideration during the application process. Readers assist in application review during high volumes of applications. They recalculate GPAs, review letters of recommendation and essays, and prepare the application for an admissions staff member to issue a decision on.
  6. Enrollment Managers/Operations Specialists: Enrollment managers and operations specialists ensure that the admissions operations are aligned with the college’s enrollment strategy. Enrollment managers also help guide students through the admissions funnel.
  7. Fellows: Fellows are often on-campus students serving within a school’s admissions department. Their responsibilities can range from interviewing prospective students to planning admissions events like campus visits or open houses.

It's important to note that many of these positions have overlapping responsibilities, and the exact nature of each may differ based on the institution. Furthermore, many smaller schools might combine multiple roles into one position. However, each opportunity offers its own unique benefits, as well as supports the overall mission of colleges and universities.

How to Land a Job in College Admissions

1. Obtain the Right Skills

If you're looking to land a job in admissions, it's important to begin by evaluating your current skills and experience. While many advanced positions require specialized skills and experience, there are many soft skills you can develop on your own. Here are the top 8 common skills listed in college admissions job postings.

  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Customer service
  • Planning
  • Operations
  • Coordinating
  • Interpersonal communications

Even if you don't have any direct experience working in admissions, developing these soft skills will go a long way in helping you land an entry-level position.

2. Fulfill the Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for each position can differ based on the role. Admissions counselors often have different degree requirements than directors of admission. In most cases, these discrepancies are caused by some roles being entry-level, which typically requires a bachelor's degree. For example, admissions counselors often hold bachelor's degrees, and developed a passion for the field at their alma maters. They then continue to obtain further positions such as assistant director of admissions or even deans of admission, depending on their experience.

While a master's degree can help you land higher paying positions, it's not required to work in most admissions positions. In fact, approximately 25 percent of postsecondary education administrators hold bachelor's degrees. If you’re considering furthering your education, or the school you work for requires one for director-level positions, institutions often offer a discounted advanced degree for staff members.

Those who’ve already graduated with a bachelor’s degree and are looking for an admissions job in higher education should consider the various opportunities your alma mater and similar institutions offer. Many colleges hire alumni for admissions positions as they have first-hand experience with the process, and are familiar with the campus culture.

3. Obtain a Work Study Position

If you're still a college student, a great way to find a job in admissions is to check the work study and campus job opportunities available to you. Many colleges offer positions to current students in various departments throughout the institution. For example, students can be employed as receptionists, data-entry assistants, or tour guides. No matter the role you take, you’ll benefit from building your network of admissions contacts, increasing the likelihood you'll obtain a position post-graduation.

Finding the Right Career Path

Finding the right career path in college admissions depends largely on your goals. Would you prefer to counsel families through the application process, assist students who inquire about financial aid options, or manage a staff who takes on these roles?

Whatever path you choose, it's valuable to leverage the resources available through the school you attended. Contact your college's admissions team and ask for advice. Ask how they obtained their jobs and the journey they took to get where they are now. Consider looking at your alma mater’s job boards and setting up automated job alerts. For example, many schools partner with the job board platform Handshake, which is designed to help connect students with employers looking for internships, as well as full and part-time jobs.

It's also incredibly important to stay updated with college admissions news, as well as trends in higher education enrollment. Subscribe to the Enrollment Marketer newsletter to receive helpful articles and resources right in your inbox that will keep you up-tp-date on the world of enrollment management and marketing.