This essay is by my brother Harry for the newsletter of SACAC (Southern association for college admissions counselors).
When I began working back in July I figured travel season would be pretty easy. Seeing new cities, talking to a few students: no big deal. Initially I referred to it as 'backingpacking with a purpose' and gladly assumed the title of road warrior (or road puppy, depending on whom you talk to.) Despite suggestions and warnings from my office and from Dry Run, there are still some things that you can only understand once you hit the road. Here are a few tips from my travels for new counselors.
1) Just Because It Is Written (Or Spoken) Doesn't Make It So.
Strange as it may sound, GPS is not infallible. Always double check the night before how far away your first visit actually is. Even the slightest mistake in the GPS makes a big difference. For example, Highland Avenue is vastly different from Highland Drive, which happens to be nowhere near North Highland Drive (I'd like to have a word or two with the people who planned the Pittsburgh streets).
2) Make Sure Your Hotel Rooms Are Comfortable.
Nothing compares to sleeping in your own bed, so double check that the hotels rooms you book are legit. You don't want to be stuck with a place that has blue stains on the phone, red stains on the sheets, and a chip on the toilet seat. It just does not make for a pleasant experience or a good visit the next day.
3) Traveling Alone Means Eating Alone.
This was one of the harder things for me to adjust to. If you don't feel like being social bring a book or an ipad. But, you are a friendly person and that is why you were hired for this job. Go and sit at a restaurant bar and talk to the person next to you or the bartender. Most likely they are in the same boat and you can strike up a good conversation.
4) Dress It Up.
This one is for the counselors just out of college or the younger looking crowd. I went to too many schools where I was told I looked like a student and was even asked by another rep what I wanted to major in (thanks University of Buffalo!) Make sure you look professional so that you can hopefully put your high school years behind you.
5) Keep Calm and Carry On.
Anything and everything will happen. From locking your keys in your trunk, having a student cry in front of you, or witnessing a pick-up truck fly across two lanes and smash into a barrier; calamity is inevitable. Just take a deep breath, crack a smile, and go get a drink. Happy hour gained its name for a reason.
And last but not least, read @AdmissionsProblems! Be it the tumblr, twitter, or facebook, it is good to know there are people out there trudging along with you. Good luck!