Michelle M. Stanley
Associate Director for Undergraduate Admissions
Saginaw Valley State University (MI)
What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
While attending a college fair in high school, I recall feeling overwhelmed and unsure on how to engage with college admissions reps. I thought to myself, “How did these people find their careers and how can I make a difference for first-gen students like me?” Fast forward to 2012, I started my role as an admissions counselor, serving non-traditional students who needed guidance on how to complete their degree programs. From that moment on, I knew my calling was in college admissions. I love that I can support students, families, and communities in college exploration.
What is your favorite part of the job?
What I love most about college admissions counseling is that you can never predict what your workday will look like. I love to travel. When recruitment season arrives, I’m ready to put on my road warrior boots and hit the open road, listening to my favorite audiobooks and podcasts while sharing my love for education and finding a college that is the best fit for students and families.
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC and the Affiliate Presidents Council has opened so many doors of opportunity for my career path. (I’ve received two promotions since I was elected to the executive board of MACAC!!!) From networking and professional development to representing MACAC and SVSU at the national level, I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in growing personally and professionally alongside my fellow NACAC colleagues.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
One of the greatest challenges we face in our profession today is finding a way to empower students and families to stand up and say, “I don’t know…” So many people are trying to figure it out on their own, not realizing that there are college admissions professionals waiting for students to connect with us and say those four magical words, “I have a question.” We can shout at the top of our lungs, until we are blue in the face, that reaching out for guidance is what we are here for, yet our emails, texts, or phone calls are answered by silence. There are students reaching out, but I know there are many students and families out there trying to figure things out on their own, getting overwhelmed and stressed, and we want them to know there is someone waiting to help you. All you need to do is ask.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
In my free time you will find me cherishing every moment with friends and family. I have a soon-to-be 4-year-old son who is always down for an adventure and a husband who’s always encouraging new experiences. When I have a rare moment of “me” time, you can find me reading, soaking up the sun, or binge watching the latest must-watch series in the streaming world.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Molly Weasley. Molly is a strong, supportive, and caring mother to her children and chosen family. She’s an advocate for education and knows how to throw a great party.