Like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what you're going to get when it comes to being a Student Affairs professional. Every student is a unique individual. Every family has a different story. Every situation will give you a new learning opportunity. Each day will bring a new challenge.

But hey, isn't that what life is all about? A large part of my job is spent traveling all over the state of Tennessee. My recruiting territory is West Tennessee, which includes twenty one counties with over 120 high schools. I also spent several weeks in East Tennessee this past travel season. Not being a native of the state, I knew little to expect aside from the time I'd
spent in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis. Needless to say, I've honed my geography skills these past months!

Every high school I entered was new to me- students, staff, and facilities. I marched up to these places not knowing what was going on past the front doors. Would the students be friendly? Would they even show interest my institution? Each place has welcomed me with open arms.

This doesn't go without mentioning that even at a handful of schools, I only spoke to one or two people. But if I was in Alabama or Georgia, where I did student recruitment as an undergraduate, I would know exactly where I was and what type of schools I'd be going to visit. It's different to be recruiting in a state that you aren't very familiar with but exciting at the same time because you never know what to expect.

Certain schools have reputations. Everyone knows this. Perhaps they're huge for athletics or known for their academics. One must look past those. There is no room for being judgmental within our field. A particular day in Memphis comes to mind while typing this. I had a
jammed packed day with four events booked from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

(Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way, but back to the story!) I was speaking to a classroom of seniors at a small private school. After our time was up, they asked what other schools I'd be attending that week. I rattled off a few and one of them caught their interest,
choice words were spoken, and the teacher promptly told them to hush. I'm a cautious person, so I took note and proceeded on my way. Get to said school and I had a BLAST. Everything that had been said was a complete 180 and to this day, it remains one of my favorite visits.

As I sit here with Star Trek playing in the background (insert nerdy comments here), I've realized there's always something new and exciting to explore or discover while I'm on my travels. I will never be presented with the same scenario twice. We will always be kept
guessing. These give us the time to learn all we can about our institutions and other resources available. There is definitely never a dull day in Student Affairs. And like our friend Forrest Gump said, we never know what we are going to get.

Kristen Chapman

Student Affairs - the First Years

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