On the first floor of the Academic Center, files pass through desk trays, phones ring with incoming questions, and fingers tap on keyboards, searching out and providing answers. However, this team remains unfazed by the busyness of it all. They are the admissions counselors of the admissions department!
These admissions counselors act as the segue for Pensacola Christian College applicants, assisting them through each step of the application process while ensuring they have everything they need. “Our mission is to inform and guide prospective students to succeed in influencing their world,” said Amy Abbott, director of admissions.
Holly Collier, an admissions counselor who helps online dual enrollment and early admissions applicants, aims to keep the process simple. “We actually remember how intimidating the steps can be, so we break it down into manageable pieces for each applicant to work on,” she said. “We recognize that everyone is different, so we work with each applicant on an individual basis.”
In between responding to online chats and answering text messages, counselors establish a set of goals to keep their applicants on track in the enrollment process. “We are all reaching out to them at a minimum of once a month to check in and remind them of what they need to do,” said admissions counselor David Pledger. “They are also getting any mass e-mails we send out with important information. Each counselor has their own method, but we all try to make some kind of connection with each applicant.”
While all counselors work with student applications, each one specializes in certain areas. For Alexis Higgins, this is her second semester working with international applicants. “When I transitioned to an international counselor, I didn’t quite know what to expect,” she said. “Then I received my first admissions essay (an opportunity for applicants to share their salvation testimony), and it made me realize that, even though we grew up in different countries, ate different food, spoke a different language, we serve the same God and had the same desire to study at a Christian institution.”
Laura Szives assists those interested in PCC’s graduate programs. “The majority of my applicants are online students, so most of them don’t take classes on campus,” she said. “Graduate applicants often have full-time jobs, family responsibilities, or busy schedules. Because of this, I have spoken with many who have expressed concern over balancing everyday life with graduate classes. I walk them through a breakdown of their courses and describe what a typical semester of online courses will look like. Once their degree is broken down into smaller portions, it makes the class/work balance more doable.”
Over the semester, some applicants visit campus for College Days, a perfect time to explore PCC’s campus, learn more about classes, and interact with the student body. “Admissions encourages high school students to visit during College Days, whether they’ve applied to PCC or not!” said Holly. “You can get a true feel of how college life will be, and even meet with your admissions counselor. We enjoy meeting our applicants so we can relate to each other more easily.”
“You have invested a lot of time and prayer in these applicants, and getting to meet them face-to-face is a huge encouragement,” said Alexis. “When they tell you that they got something out of the chapel message, or they learned something new in a class they were visiting, it makes you feel like you made an impact. As an admissions counselor, you are part of that next big step, and you feel very connected to them. You want to see them succeed!”
Although a newer counselor, David has enjoyed taking opportunities to help his applicants through anything that comes up. “I had a concerned mother contact me and ask if I would reach out to her son and encourage him,” he recalled. “She said that he was pretty nervous about coming to PCC since he knew only one person and they are an upperclassman. I texted him and told him about how I was in the same situation when I came to PCC. I knew only one other person, and I barely ever saw him. I also went on to tell him about how I made some of my best friends and memories while I was a student.”
Each counselor’s journey with an applicant usually ends after the first week of classes. Their applicant becomes a student, equipped with the tools and resources they need to continue their PCC journey. “After a student arrives on campus, admissions counselors take a step back,” said Holly. “We are still here to direct students and tell them where to go, but our job is essentially finished! Both parents and students [have] appreciated our availability throughout.”
With new applications coming in at all times of the year, PCC’s admissions counselors are ready to make the enrollment process as simple as possible.