Role With It

Being employed in Higher Education makes you a face of your institution. What does that mean for us exactly? We are seen as role models. Students and their families look to us for guidance and answers. Whether they are coming into the Office of Admissions, Housing, or Student Affairs- it is us that they call upon and we must exceed their expectations in every way possible.

Setting a good example starts at the top. My boss is awesome. I feel very lucky and blessed to be able to say that. I’ve heard horror stories from friends and family members in all areas of the working world about their bosses not setting the appropriate examples. My boss is smart yet laid back, respectful, and open-minded. And because he rocks, it makes me want to do my best and excel within our office for the students.

Prospective students and their families, a.k.a my main focuses, come next. My travel territory is West Tennessee. For a bulk of the students, I am their first interaction with Middle Tennessee State University. Memphis is a lofty four-hour haul via I-40, so I make my presence known when I arrive. Of course, I want to relay to them how MTSU is- friendly, diverse, and nationally known. Can that be done if I’m playing on my phone and sitting on my chair with my arms crossed? Certainly not. I want them to feel that they belong at MTSU and that they are not just a number. Each student deserves nothing but the best and that’s exactly what I’m there to give them.

Then there is the town of Murfreesboro, where the school is located. There are over 100,000 people here, but you never know whom you are going to effect. Some days I lose count of the prospective students and families that I’ve talked to. I always try my best to remember one key thing about each one of them, whether it is their major or an item of clothing. Just last week, I was grocery shopping when a woman dropped her belongings. I stopped to help her and she remembered that I worked in Admissions at MTSU. I recalled giving her information on Financial Aid then sending her to their office. She thanked me, not only for helping pick her canned soup off the floor, but for being helpful and making an impression on her.

This is why I love my job. You get to make those lasting impressions. I remember meeting my Admissions Counselor in high school like it was yesterday- what he said to me and even the outfit he was wearing because he was the first interaction I’d had with Jacksonville State University. Oddly enough, he and his wife were the only two people I knew when I started this adventure at MTSU and are now some of my closest friends. It just goes to show that you never know what kind of impression you are going to leave on somebody. It can be something as simple as smiling as they pass your table or changing their mind on what college to attend. Your first impression always matters, inside and out. So just role with it. 

Kristen Chapman

Student Affairs - the First Years

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