Molly Thompson-Vander Heyden
Associate Director of Admissions for Operations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Like many, I stumbled into the world of college admission counseling after spending time in the K-12 classroom. However, I fell in love with the profession because I could travel, meet new people, and build deep relationships with students and families in a way I couldn’t do as a K-12 music teacher.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Hands down, my favorite part of this job is helping students and families through the college admission process. Being a resource and helping them navigate our challenging field is very fulfilling for me.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC and NACAC affiliates are central to my college admissions career. I gave my very first conference presentation at TACAC. I met so many people through social media but WACAC, TACAC, NEACAC, MACAC, and the NACAC conferences are where I solidified those relationships into lifelong friendships. I grew in leadership roles because of the professional development opportunities I had the opportunity to attend through NACAC like the Middle Management Institute. I’m forever grateful to NACAC.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?

Oof. We are facing so many challenges today. Demographic cliffs, enrollment cliffs, recovery from COVID-19, changes to name buy purchases, and more. However, I feel there is a tie for the biggest challenges: the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action and the Great Resignation (i.e., staff burnout).

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Music is a huge part of my life. I love to sing and play piano. But I also love reading, taking naps, and snuggling with my cat, Biscuit.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I really admire Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. I love her passion for knowledge, her fierce loyalty and support of her friends and chosen family, her never-ending fight for social justice, and her strong independent nature. It’s even better that she has a time turner and can be in two places at once!


Published Sept. 18, 2023