College Counselor: “I Cannot Imagine My Job without a CAC Adviser”

Joy Toms, a college counselor at Morehead High School in Rockingham County (rural North Carolina), faces challenges similar to many in her field. Most vexing is the combination of limited time and huge demand for her support. Joy is just one of three full-time college counselors working at Morehead. The three counselors serve a total student population of 950 students.

“Finding the time to reach all the students I want to in a week is quite difficult,” she says. “There seems to be a new expectation of what needs to be done by counselors placed on us each year.”

Given this reality, Toms relies heavily on College Advising Corps advisers who have recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These advisers are an integral part of the student services team at Morehead and fully immerse themselves in the school for two years.

“They are a huge asset to us, and even a greater asset to our students and families,” Toms says. “I can say without a doubt that there are students sitting in college classrooms right now because of College Advising Corps advisers’ work.”

Toms has worked with three different College Advising Corps advisers since beginning her work at Morehead. She sees advisers playing a key role in fostering a college-going culture, particularly due to the fact that many students’ parents do not see the value of higher education.

“College Advising Corps advisers have worked tirelessly to change that perception,” she explains. “I have been very impressed with the training the advisers receive through College Advising Corps. They seem well prepared for each situation they face, although it can be something new each day!”

According to Toms, the keys to a successful partnership between a school’s college counselor and a College Advising Corps adviser are the 4 C’s:

1. Communication. When it comes to working as part of a team that can often be pulled in a zillion different directions in one day, you cannot over-communicate. Let your team know your goals, plans, and results. Keep us all updated on what we need to know about specific students.

2. Consistency. Be someone that faculty, staff, and students can rely on. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. Follow through is essential.

3. Collaboration. Find those within the school that believe in the goals of College Advising Corps and collaborate. Use the counselors to help find these people.

4. Compassion. Most people in the student services area are natural helpers. They do what they do because they care about students. Be in partnership about caring for the students. Do not try to do it alone. Lastly, remember to take care of yourself.

Toms has seen these characteristics on display throughout her years working with College Advising Corps advisers. It is for this reason she definitively says, “I cannot imagine my job without a CAC adviser.”