Erin West Earle
Director of Undergraduate Enrollment, New Student Transitions & Visitor Services

The University of Rhode Island

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Reflecting on my journey, I didn’t initially envision myself in college admission counseling, but looking back, it’s clear where I truly belong. A mentor during my college years nudged me to apply for a temporary recruitment role in the admission office. Their guidance led me to discover a career perfectly aligned with my public relations skills and passion for helping others.

What I adore about our profession is its dynamic nature. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, making the work cyclical and endlessly engaging. Despite nearly two decades in this field, I remain humbled by the unique experiences of each student I encounter. Guiding them through the college admissions process is a privilege I never take lightly, as I understand firsthand the significance of this journey for them.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is its impact on students’ lives, in small and large ways. One of the most fulfilling aspects of my role is the opportunity to contribute to increasing the accessibility and inclusivity of higher education. I enjoy working on policies, procedures, and programs that help historically excluded populations reach higher education. As the Director of Undergraduate Enrollment, New Student Transitions, and Visitor Services, I’ve embraced the chance to develop and implement an innovative model that extends beyond the traditional May 1 deadline. This initiative enables us to support students and their families as they transition to higher education. By overseeing the orientation and welcoming of new students, I can build upon the groundwork laid during the admissions process, ensuring that students have the resources they need to thrive at our university.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
Being actively engaged with NACAC and its affiliate, NEACAC, has profoundly influenced my professional journey. It facilitated my continued growth and development as a professional. Through NEACAC, I acquired invaluable supervision, budget management, event planning, and collaboration skills, which equipped me for higher-level responsibilities within my office. Moreover, the peer network offered unwavering support and guidance during critical junctures.

Participating in the NACAC Affiliate Presidents Council and as the Women in Admission SIG co-chair further enriched my understanding of college admission counseling beyond New England by collaborating with exceptional professionals nationwide. My association with NACAC has undoubtedly strengthened my skills and effectiveness through the educational sessions and workshops I have attended. Witnessing our profession’s challenges, I’m grateful for our collaborative professional community, even within a competitive industry.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The most pressing challenge confronting our profession today lies in the imperative to dismantle entrenched systems of structural exclusion within higher education. While we collectively recognize this challenge, addressing it is hindered by the weight of ensuring institutional financial success while also navigating political barriers. It will take intentional and ethical leaders to remain brave enough to move the needle on this issue.

Another significant challenge we encounter is the prevailing perception that higher education is dispensable for achieving success. I firmly contend that education yields substantial benefits well into an individual’s mid-20s. One of the paramount challenges our profession and nation must confront is rectifying the undervaluation of higher education while also tackling the escalating costs of attending college.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Though my thoughts are often busy with my passion for our work, a few activities truly rejuvenate me. One of these is spending time at the beach, a space that never fails to invigorate and relax me. Additionally, I enjoy reading books. Typically, I have a variety of books on the go: one for leisure, one related to my work, and one in audiobook format. Among my recent reads are Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel (a selection from the Women in Admission SIG), Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora (chosen for the 2024 Read Across Rhode Island), and The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand.

I also get immense joy from experiencing the world anew through my children’s eyes. Recently, I embarked on a train trip to Boston with my son and witnessing his excitement about the commuter rail served as a poignant reminder not to take life’s simple pleasures for granted. I am committed to serving my community. Most notably, I serve as the school board chair in my town. Though, at times, it is challenging to be an elected official, my professional background has equipped me with the skills needed to advocate for our K-12 colleagues and students effectively. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of my town in this capacity.

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Adaptable. Innovative. Persistent. Problem-solver. Mentor.


Published July 22, 2024