James Fisher IV
Senior Assistant Director
University of Southern California
What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Like many, I kind of stumbled upon the world of admission counseling by accident, primarily because my best friend was an admission counselor at the time I joined the profession. However, by year two I knew I was in love with the industry and wasn’t planning to leave anytime soon. Helping others reach their educational goals has kept me in the world of college admission counseling. I have numerous goals of my own that I want to work on in education. One issue, specifically, is trying to close the educational gaps that exist within this country across race, ethnic, and economic lines.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is easy—it would have to be hearing all the surprised and ecstatic students celebrating their admission status. Seeing the cycle come full circle is such an incredible feeling, it makes me happy and I get excited thinking about all the great things our students will do in the future.
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC and its affiliate associations have been crucial in helping me to network, develop, and nurture my professional relationships. Since we are all constantly on the move, NACAC serves as the space where we can all come together for a moment for professional development and to discuss current trends in education and within our offices as well as our own mental and emotional health. Connecting with other members of NACAC has tremendously expanded my professional network in ways that I would not have been able to alone. I have learned about several career opportunities specifically through the network I have built from NACAC, so I can’t imagine not being a part of this association.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
There are several challenges that our profession is facing, including, but not limited to: rising operational costs (which lead to a higher cost of attendance), a decline in the number of high school gradutes, and a larger-than-life student loan debt crisis…these are some that bubble up initially for me. However, I believe rising operational costs, in particular, will have the most profound effect on our profession. With the increase in COA and smaller graduating classes, I believe institutions will “compete” even more with each other for the same group of students. I also imagine more students will walk away due to student loan debt or because they found other avenues to create the quality of life they want. We must continue finding ways to engage, enrich, and encourage students so that they can have the college experience of their dreams.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
When I’m not working, I like to cook, read, run, or watch one of my favorite TV shows or movies. I have recently started taking more hikes and spending time on the beach. As things begin opening back up again I plan to start exploring museums and art exhibits once more. I am also looking forward to live music concerts coming back.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Hmm, I think this is the toughest question yet. There are so many great choices. I will settle on Albus Dumbledore and being the greatest wizard who ever lived, plus I used the quarantine to reread the series for the umpteenth time. Two honorable mentions would be Storm or the Scarlet Witch from X-Men. If you think their powers are weak, I’d love to debate you on that, LOL.
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