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Meet Carin Smith

Carin Smith headshotCarin Smith
Regional Admissions Manager, Northern California Regional Representative
DePaul University (IL)
Co-Leader of the Regional Admission Counselors SIG

What drew you to the world of college admission?
Honestly, I fell into my first admissions position in an effort to accommodate a job opportunity my husband was offered at our alma mater, Beloit College (WI). I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I quickly discovered admission life suited my interests for working with students in ways I didn’t see happening for me in a classroom.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The students, without question! They are wide-eyed, bright, hopeful (sometimes a bit too stressed out); they all have their own unique stories—some more complicated than others—but all of them tend to have something to share and passions they are excited to pursue. They are working through what they know is a big decision and I have the distinct honor of assisting them.

How did you get involved with the Regional Admission Counselors SIG?
When I founded the CARR group (Chicago Area Regional Reps), I had just started a new position at the University of Denver working in a regional setting. At that time (25 years ago) there were a small number of us, but I was fortunate to be teamed with two colleagues who were founding members of regional groups on the east and west coasts. We were all supported by our dean, Roger Campbell, who embraced the regional vision far ahead of his time. Roger pushed us to learn outside our boundaries and not be afraid to lead and support others. He cleared a path for us all to become heavily involved in helping define regional admission at that point in time, and what it could be going forward. Looking back, we were so fortunate to have him as our strongest advocate and kindest mentor.

Why is this SIG important to you?
SIG involvement allows like-minded individuals to come together to both help and learn from each other. Because the regional admission model has grown so significantly and so quickly in these past 10 years, some regional groups are far ahead of others and can offer assistance to new groups. The issues and growth opportunities in one part of the country are often quite different from other parts of the country. Learning about these differences and brainstorming together about how best to uphold NACAC policies AND the needs of our own institutions is ultimately helpful and important for everyone in the room. SIG participants enjoy a tremendous opportunity to practice active listening and empathic problem-solving.

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
I like to think of it as the ultimate classroom incubator. As NACAC members, we have agreed to uphold the basic tenets involved in membership and enjoy the leadership our membership affords us. SIGs are akin to smaller colleges or majors on the NACAC campus. Special Interest Groups represent the fellow students studying in your same major area of interest; we talk the same talk, live in the same space, and can assist each other in moving forward while, at the same time, enjoying the overarching leadership of NACAC.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Access, hands down. However, I also worry that as finances, demographic shifts, and big government have become more and more what we talk about and worry about, we too often lose sight of the fundamental question I believe we should all be asking ourselves several times every day: “How is what I’m doing right now helping an individual student get to college?” I have loved this profession for 35 years. My first title was admissions counselor and for almost 20 years, I enjoyed working at an institution that encouraged us, unwaveringly, to focus on one student at a time. I am concerned that too often lately, self-interest and outside noise are getting in the way of what our entire profession was built to accomplish. Helping a student get to college can involve: making a phone call (or several), advocating to a dean, talking a parent off the ledge, listening carefully, moving a mountain, feeling disappointed, being unselfish, long hours, and so on and so forth. Yet, at the end of the day, it can involve profound satisfaction.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Watch basketball (college and high school mostly)— my family is a big basketball family (coaches, players, fans!); walk my 3-year-old chocolate lab, Charlie Brown; listen to too many audio books and podcasts. Finally, I am a diehard Chicago Cubs fan and blissfully their season is long and at least once a season they even show up in the Bay Area.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Hermione Granger! She is brave and smart, she’s clever and a leader, she’s a team player and contributor, and she doesn’t hesitate for a minute to tell the boysin her life what to do. When asked about her future career plans, she responded, “I’m hoping to do some good in the world!” Certainly, she would make a fabulous, fierce, empathetic college counselor.

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