This year, recent graduates Hailey Bomar and Sam Bader ’18 are staying on at Lawrence to help usher in a fresh generation of Lawrentians. The former students are fulfilling their roles as admissions fellows through the 2018-2019 academic year, and are excited to share their experiences.
Bader, an anthropology major, feels that this one-year contract will enable him to develop professionally while also preparing him for steps to further education. “The reason I took this job is to give me a little more time to think and be in an academic space, because I still want to go to grad school and pursue higher degrees of education and being in an academic sphere is nice because I still feel like I’m in the mindset of it,” Bader explained.
Bomar agreed that this position is the right fit for her as she prepares for the next stage of her education. “I am studying for the LSAT right now and I’m planning to apply to law school next year … When I graduated, I was feeling so lost. I knew what I was interested in but I didn’t know what that was going to look like and I want[ed] to take the time and have the mental space to figure out what that could possibly look like. And I think Lawrence provided me with opportunities to get a lot of breadth of imagination about what I could do next.”
Bomar majored in biology but has also found a passion for what she calls “resource brokering” through working as an admissions fellow. “What a lot of people don’t realize is there is a large sort of advocacy to working in admissions and working in higher ed. It’s really important because you’re working with students and their families on making a huge choice and financial decision and there are lots of things that can impact that and I think what appeals to me most about working in this role is the chance to fight for those students and make sure that they are getting the best help they can to make an informed choice and that choice doesn’t always necessarily mean Lawrence,” Bomar said.
A key aspect of Bomar and Bader’s roles as admissions fellows is working with prospective students. However, there are many components to the admissions fellows’ work. Each day, at least one officer of the day is assigned to the front desk of Chapman Hall in order to greet and assist incoming visitors. Bader and Bomar get to interview prospective students and answer any of their questions or concerns, which is where advocacy for these students who are making such an important life choice is especially important. “It’s a really humbling and empathetic experience, because four or five years ago we were in the same position, you know, looking at colleges and stressing out with our families about it. And obviously every situation, every group of people, is a little bit different,” Bader mused.
Bomar agreed, adding in, “I feel privileged, how much students are willing to share with us, like to really be vulnerable. And so you feel very responsible in that way … It brings you back to when you visited Lawrence for the first time … You can tell when a kid’s really excited and that’s a really fun day when they’re like, ‘I want to go to Lawrence!’”
The fellows also play a large role in the process of reading applications. Admissions counselors are assigned to different territories based not so much on geography but rather the amount of applications received from each region. For example, because fewer applications come to Lawrence from states in the South, Bomar is in charge of that entire area.
Meanwhile, Bader reads applications from the Carolinas and Pennsylvania, as well as Puerto Rico. Because of the sheer number of applications, however, Bader and Bomar also assist other admissions counselors. Bomar assists the counselors who split the state of Wisconsin, while Bader helps out Chicago’s regional counselors.
As very recent graduates, Bader and Bomar also feel that they have a beneficial perspective when it comes to understanding their work environments and helping newcomers. Bader and Bomar have recently begun to help with the Idea team, which works to consider issues of diversity and equity when recruiting new students.
“It’s nice to kind of know what your resources are. Especially as recent grads, we have a lot of strength to leverage there in terms of talking to prospective students and families. When there’s something that we want to do with the Idea team or with other connections for prospective students we’re like, ‘Oh, we can connect them with this person because we know them from when we were students’ so I think there’s a tremendous amount of power there in terms of really leveraging that experience for prospective students,” Bomar mentioned.
While developing professionally, being on campus in this different capacity is an interesting experience for Bader and Bomar. “It’s definitely strange to be operating in the same space … It’s the same places and everything but it’s different in a sense that all of a sudden my day to day responsibilities have changed … The people I’m interacting with are different as well so it feels different even though I look out the door and it’s still a place I used to walk around as a student, but again its interesting because there’s still a nice professional development aspect of it … It’s really nice to do that in a place you’re familiar with,” Bader said.
This year-long position as admissions fellow is a new one, and Bader and Bomar are excited to talk with anyone who is interested in applying for next year. While Bomar had worked with admissions throughout her time at Lawrence, Bader had never worked in admissions previously, and is adamant that any Lawrentian is well-qualified for the role. “It’s really cool to work at a place you graduated from, and now I have an affinity for the other folks that are also alums either within our year, or even a couple years or even a while ago that are still here and working for the school because it’s a place they care about,” Bader concluded.