Dan Tudor

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December 4th, 2018

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Admissions Newsletter Survey Results

A couple of weeks ago I asked you to answer two very important questions.

Q1: What one quality do you value the most in a leader?

Q2: What one piece of advice would you give a new admissions professional or tell your past self?

The survey was 100% anonymous, and I think the feedback will be invaluable for a lot of readers as well as myself. Regardless of your current title or years of experience in college admissions, you’re going to want to read these answers. My hope is they will be what pushes someone to make a major change, or what helps them take a major step forward in their career.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

If you have any questions about this survey you can contact me directly at: jeremy@dantudor.com


Q1. What ONE QUALITY do you value the most in a leader?

1 Compassion– cares about me as a person
2 Cool-headed.
3 Equipping – preparing your people and then allowing them to do what you have equipped them to do. No need to micromanage, but let them bring their unique gifts to the role you have given them and prepared them for.
4 Willingness to have you grow
5 communication
6 Being in the trenches with me.
7 Motivational
8 Non micro-manager. The ability to let me do my work, yet provide input when needed.
9 Communication and compassion. I know you only listed 1 but I feel as though these two go hand in hand. A leader who can articulate what they want but being able to compassionately article this is a skill not many have. This is a skill that will help team members run through a wall or run away. By being able to be compassionate and understand the personal traits of a team, one can clearly communicate the goals of the project/overall goal.
10 Honesty


Clear vision
12 Transparency
13 Honesty
14 I value a leader who allows their staff do complete their work and balance their home-life with work-life. There’s nothing worse than a slave driver who expects counselors to be all work, all the time. Holding a team accountable doesn’t have to come at the expense of a team’s happiness or sanity.
15 The ability to listen
16 Respect
17 Transparency
18 Honesty
19 passion – people will follow with excitement. passion for why we do what we do will affect how we do it.


The ability to admit when they are wrong (i.e. ability to be humble and vulnerable…), yet maintain their strength and dignity.
22 Thoughtfulness-in thinking through new ideas before responding, in deciding how to present a new idea, in their care and keeping of their direct reports, and in how they treat all others.
23 Authenticity
24 The ability to get their hands dirty. If they ask me to do something, I don’t necessarily expect them to do it, but if they are willing to give a campus tour in the freezing cold and put themselves my shoes I really respect that.
25 Honesty – regardless of the situation, be honest and straightforward in address any issue you face.
26 Humility
27 inteGRITy: courageously holds to their strong principles & character (my work around for giving my top two qualities in one 🙂
28 Appreciation…knowing and being acknowledged that the effort and work you put in to be successful is appreciated and valued by your supervisor/leader.
29 Honest communication
30 Consistency
31 Kindness
32 Willingness to roll up his/her sleeves and adequately contribute to the boring but necessary work alongside his/her subordinates.
33 Courage.   The courage to trust your instincts, fight for what needs to be done in the office, and the courage to allow the employees to work smart.
34 Mentor. A great admissions leader is able to help their staff achieve their professional goals and mentor the next generation of admissions leaders.
35 Vulnerability
36 Transparency
37 Trust
38 Direction. I want to know what way our department is going. The goals and objectives. Our mission of who we are. Need a leader that has a clear direction and always refers to it.
39 Communication
40 Transparency



The one quality that I value the most in a leader is the quality to take charge and get things done when things need to be done. That can mean taking care of unnecessary drama in the workplace or helping to motivate the team to meet a weekly goal.
42 Honesty/integrity
43 sense of humor
44 I think the best leaders know how to collaborate in such a way that values people and their opinions while still being able to make the hard decisions when it is not the most popular.
45 Vision
46 Integrity
47 I value someone who has a servant mindset and is willing to listen, encourage and lead from behind rather than in front.
48 Availability – being available to the team for support and guidance.
49 A leader has to make his/her team feel safe and supported so they can take risks and make choices that allow for creative problem solving. If support doesn’t come from leadership, the work place is stunted from the get-go.
50 Confidence
51 Candid.
52 The quality I value most in a leader is the ability to clearly and coherently define the vision and how each individual fits into that vision.
53 I’ve found a strong leader shoulders the pressure put on our office and motivates us in ways so we do not always feel that pressure. Another strong quality if communication.


Q2. What ONE PIECE OF ADVICE would you give a new college admissions professional or tell your past self?

1 There is a LOT to take in as a first year counselor; don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions
2 You are the expert.
3 Establish a work life balance early on
4 When you focus on doing your job you don’t have to worry about acing one task… your consistent work ethic is more appreciated.
5 Call and ask questions that allow you to KNOW the student, their goals, fears, and expectations.
6 You can do everything right and still lose a student to another school. That’s okay. Don’t take it personally.
7 Take time for mini (not many) breaks throughout the day. At the end of the day, be satisfied with your work efforts.   We all live in a 24 hour day, and we need to balance our work load, as well as create a time to cease work and live a home life.
8 Do not wait! Jump in and explore. Find a mentor and jump into your local affiliates. This will help you learn more about the community you are enrolling in. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone either. This could be by either traveling for recruitment or presenting at a local conference. Do it!
9 Be patient.   Rome was not built in a day so don’t expect to know everything about admissions when you start. It takes a good year to understand this crazy line of work!
10 Don’t be afraid to work harder than your peers.
11 Don’t assume you know everything! Be open to learning.
12 Don’t forget to take care of yourself and make your wellness a priority. It’s like the oxygen masks on airplanes…put the oxygen mask on yourself before you   help someone else. You can’t adequately help someone else if you are struggling to breathe.
13 Stay on top of work and don’t let it build up. Letting your workload build to a point where it controls your life is the kiss of death. Stay up on work even if it means extra-time in the office now and then. Admissions isn’t a 9-5 job or always just 40 hour weeks. If you try to operate that way, it will build up and you’ll be working 50, 60 or 70+ hours a week to catch up. You will resent that and won’t last in the profession if it happens.
14 The importance of networking
15 ASK QUESTIONS, no matter how obvious you may think the answer “should” be
16 A student may not always be the right fit for YOUR institution. But you will always feel good as a professional if you help them find the right fit, even if it’s not your school.



To immediately get to know your IT person and dive into the data before forming any plan or goal.

18 be a builder – build relationships across so many channels, students, families, academics, athletics, community, high school leaders,


View your job as a “professional life-changer.” What you say DOES matter in the futures of each and every student you meet. You are not the important person in the whole process…the STUDENT is the most important person and should be the center of your focus.   Referring a student to another college can be just as important and significant as recruiting them to yours. There has to be a fit. It is all about the student and his/her needs. Not yours.
20 self-care and balance are just as important as getting your job done. You can’t do a good job, if you aren’t at 100%.
21 Strive to be the best one in your office at everything. The first one in the office, the last one to leave, the one who volunteers, the one who takes the appointment no one wants, the person with ideas, the person who gives feedback openly and the one who asks for more opportunities.
22 Every application is a human being
23 Do not be afraid to ask questions! Even if you think it might be a silly or stupid question, just ask. It is better to ask questions and do something right than to do something wrong and ask how to fix it.
24 Learn as much about the FA process as you can. Admissions and FA are so interwoven that you need to understand how aid is used at your institution to shape a class and achieve desired institutional objectives.
25 Refuse to be passive: take initiative and don’t abdicate responsibility. “How to Lead Change When You’re Not In Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority”: I’ve used the principles in this book with both my staff & student workers and wish I had this as a new counselor.
26 Focus on relationship management, more than the individual recruitment of students and families. The more you focus on the relationship, the easier the recruitment piece will be. Don’t limit relationship management to the prospective students/families you work with. Focus on establishing meaningful relationships with your colleagues (inside and outside of your department), high school counselors, and any influencers in your purview. This will undoubtedly assist you both as you start your career, but continuing on as you progress in your career.
27 Work to live, don’t live to work
28 Be genuine and hold true to your word
29 To my past self: you know more than you give yourself credit for.
30 Don’t try to do everything because you can’t; ask more seasoned colleagues what matters most, and start there.



Infotain. That is what admissions is all about. Deliver your information about you school in a way that is fun and engaging with students, families, and counselors.

32 Learn as much as you can. Understand not just the admissions process but also know how that intersects with other processes (e.g., financial aid). Work to become the “one stop” person for that student you work with. While you cannot answer every question, students, and their families, always appreciate it when you can provide them with the basic information to assist them in making decisions.
33 Get very comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know who does… I’ll get right back to you!”
34 It is okay to question leadership. Clarity is important and, sometimes, you can’t get there without asking questions.
35 You’ll work strange and long hours, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.
36 Learn as much as you can about technology. It is going to be the best way to figure out how to connect with students in the future.
37 Volunteer to help in the office when it is asked or needed. It is a great way to learn something new and also to shine a bit for stepping up in the office.
38 Be real and try your best to not sound rehearsed. Information is important but a REAL relationship with the student is invaluable.
39 One piece of advice that I would give a new college admission profession or tell my past self is that everything will always work out. All you need to do is to give yourself some time.
40 No matter your role, realize that you have the ability to put someone’s life on a completely different trajectory. All of your actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant–taking that extra minute to explain the financial aid process or advocating for that borderline student–directly impacts the students with which you work. Never cease to be humbled by that and let that be your motivation on the most difficult days.
41 It’s okay (and good!) to think outside the box! Share ideas, contribute to brainstorm sessions. Know that it’s okay to fail, as long as you’re always failing forward and learning from any mistakes or missteps along the way.
42 When you get ready for work in the morning, leave your toes at home. If you want to be successful then it takes working hard and most times working hard with people who are smart and also work hard. People are going to disagree with you and at times, you might look stupid. But take risks and don’t get upset on the small things. This means that toes are going to get stepped on. Similar to my answer for the first question – we need to care about people but we cannot only make decisions to please people so that it benefits ourselves. The best decisions and actions will sometime have to step on some toes for the greater good of our students and our schools.
43 Give yourself a year before making final judgment on the approaches your office takes.
44 Be open to taking on responsibilities that may not fall within your defined job duties.
45 Take time to ask questions, journal, and take timeouts to be creative with your approaches. If you get too caught up in the day to day tasks, you lose sight and creativity.
46 Stay positive and don’t sweat the small stuff.
47 Get on the road early. Being an in-house counselor or a new counselor is a great time to learn lots of information. The only way you improve what you do is by working with the raw material, messing up, changing your approach, and working with students. Being on the road is the best place to show what you really do know and what you’re still learning. Pair up with a seasoned counselor and hit some fairs. Answer the phones and emails. Ask questions. Start there and you’re on your way to being an admissions wizard in no time. Trial by fire is the only trial you need in the first two months.
48 Find balance. Admission requires a lot of you, and while it can be VERY rewarding, it can also be very draining. Find other passions and find the balance.
49 Be honest, be you, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you grow, and that’s how you develop as a professional.
50 Don’t take rejection personally. At the end of the day, the potential student isn’t saying no to you, but to the school.
51 Slow your roll! Stay the course. Keep your eye on the prize and work hard. Put all the other garbage away and worry about the things you can control.


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