Virginia Hart
Associate Director of Admissions
Barnard College (NY)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Like many in the world of higher education, I started my journey at the University of Virginia where I found a love of storytelling through the University Guide Service and helping others find their footing as an orientation leader. I grew up in a small community in the Shenandoah mountains, so I loved connecting with others from a rural background.

After I graduated, I was looking for a way to make education more equitable. I started at a nonprofit aiming to lower the high school dropout rate in Boston Public Schools. Eventually, I craved the higher education community. I was lucky enough to find a job at Tufts University (MA) where I discovered our incredibly collaborative and driven field. The advocacy work, constant learning, and passionate peers keep me inspired in this field.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Attending a women’s college is a bold choice. At Barnard College, I get to uplift activists, changemakers, and brilliant young people who will make a difference in this world. I’m constantly motivated by the applicants I read. I love finding these future leaders through the stories in their applications and through engaging conversations on the road. Once they are on campus, I love working with our student admissions representatives. I walk away from conversations with current students inspired by their confidence, humble nature, and determination. Watching students grow from applicants to secure and confident seniors is the highlight of this work!

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has sparked ideas that I’ve implemented and connected me with inspirational colleagues. Coming from a rural background, I first found my way to NACAC through the Rural and Small Town SIG. Hearing from school counselors about everything from inequitable access to the internet to reduced school curricula has grounded me in our profession and made me a stronger advocate. Since then, I’ve grown into the New York counseling scene by connecting with folks at NYSACAC. At every step of my admissions career, NACAC has provided me with the tools I need to learn and grow further in our profession.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Across the board, education struggles to retain staff. Admissions is no exception. We are losing institutional knowledge, diverse perspectives, and future leaders of the field. As a profession, we need to uplift new members of our community and listen to their needs. We need to seriously reflect on how we can best support emerging professionals.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I am constantly seeking out parks in New York City. I live near Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, so I’m often walking through the nearby green spaces. I used to give tours at the Harvard Arboretum (and grew up in a forest), so I always try to name the trees as I explore. I love taking advantage of the amazing art museums, the music scene, and stellar drag shows in New York on the weekends. Of course, I love to read and am constantly frequenting nearby poetry readings and author book talks. In the summer, I attempt to grow plants in my back patio.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Eliza Thornberry! Who wouldn’t want to travel the world and talk to animals?