By Alex Helmbrecht, Director of College Relations
CHADRON – Chances are good Channing Jons has read more books than most of his peers. Jons, who has been an Admissions Representative for Chadron State College for nearly a year, traveled thousands of miles and listened to countless hours of books last fall and winter while recruiting students in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.
“I used to hate driving but now I enjoy it. The main thing I do is listen to books and last year I listened to 13 books in a five-month span,” said Jons, who drove 6,000 miles in one four-week stretch last fall. “I finished the ‘Harry Potter’ series, ‘The Hobbit,’ and started ‘Lord of the Rings.’”
Fantasy stories aside, Jons and other admissions representatives serve a realistic and valuable purpose in the college’s recruiting efforts. They are busy throughout the fall and winter traveling to various fairs, making multiple high school and community college visits a day, and discussing CSC with guidance counselors.
“I take a lot of pride in my job,” Jons said. “We’re the first representation a lot of these students see from the college, unless they have family or friends who have been here. For me, it always feels really good when a student commits to CSC because we’ve both accomplished something. They have made a major step in their life and I was able to be there and help them through it. To help students is the major reason I wanted to be an admissions rep.”
While Jons, a Newcastle, Wyoming, native and a 2015 Chadron State College graduate, truly enjoys helping students make their college decisions, he admits life and work on the road isn’t always glamorous. For example, during three-straight weeks of college fairs in Wyoming last fall, Jons left Chadron each Sunday morning for a 12 to 13-hour drive. Once he arrived at his destination, he checked into a hotel and began to prepare for the next day. Typically, Jons visits one fair in the morning and then packs up brochures, rack cards and other materials related to academic departments, scholarships, costs and how to apply to CSC, before hopping back in his car to go to the next town for an afternoon of visits.
“The nice thing is I’ve seen a lot of new places,” Jons said. “But the downfall to that is basically from August to Christmas break I’m living in hotels every week day. I’ve gotten really good at getting all my laundry done Saturday.”
Jons and other admissions representatives also have to be good at communication because the requirements of the job don’t stop when they’re out of the office. Following a day of visits, Jons said he gets to his hotel room and spends much of the night uploading the prospective students’ information into the college’s Enrollment Management Platform, answering emails and befriending the students he met on Facebook.
Jons said answering emails and messages on Facebook is crucial to the recruitment process.
“By the end of the day you don’t want to move around too much – you just want to settle into the night,” he said. “So that’s the time when I really try to communicate with students and let them know I’m here to answer questions and help. It’s rewarding to help these students through the process.”
Proper preparation has served Jons well. He said when he was hired, he read as much as he could about CSC for a week and he also gleaned knowledge from former Admission Representatives Sam Parker and Sara Smith.
Parker, now an Academic Adviser at CSC, said the most challenging part of being an admissions representative is adapting to life on the road.
“Working as an admissions rep is an extremely rewarding job and very challenging at the same time. A big portion of the year reps are on the road each week visiting schools in the region and on a good day you will visit four schools,” he said. “Just visiting one school involves travel logistics, event organization and multiple communications to students and counselors. Multiply that by four, and you have set yourself up for a busy and challenging day.”
Jons and Parker both agree, however, that the job of an admissions representative is satisfying.
“I get to meet a bunch of new people every year and talk about going to school at a place I love,” Jons said.