A story from New Student Day

This past week has been the busiest of the year in the office of undergraduate admissions and orientation at UMBC, a week that culminated in what was quite possibly the best attended and smoothest running New Student Day in the history of the university. While many prospective students, parents, and family members were treated to a well-planned display of the best that UMBC has to offers, a presentation for which we owe thanks to the hard work of our students, faculty, and staff; it was an unplanned display that I would like to share which I think will make an even stronger positive impression. Shortly prior to lunch this past new student day, I was approached by a mother and her son, and the son informed me that he had lost his cell phone somewhere in one of the lecture halls where he attended a presentation on student life. I told him that knowing the quality of students which attend UMBC and are considering attending UMBC, we should have no problem locating the phone so long as we are certain to get the word out that it is missing. I walked with him and his mother to the lecture hall, but unfortunately we could not search, for fear of disturbing the program which was now underway in there. Fortunately, my fellow admissions counselor, Coleen, was facilitating that discussion, and I informed her of the situation and asked her to call me should she find such a phone. Within an hour, Coleen not only had located the phone in the lecture hall, but it was back in the student’s hands. In a time when questions about safety, security, and integrity often pop up at the end of our information sessions, I think this was an excellent real world display of the quality of those on UMBC’s campus, and was proud that we could provide at least one family with a uniquely positive experience of UMBC.


Opening Day!

Opening Day!
As much as I enjoyed being sought out by dozens of prospective UMBC students at the NACAC fair in Hartford, CT this week, it’s great to be back in Baltimore for Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. Ok, so maybe the Orioles did lose to a community college team from Florida this week (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/baltimore-orioles-drop-exhibition-game-community-college-164735728.html ), but its opening day in Baltimore and people are excited, UMBC being no exception. After over a dozen straight losing seasons, with the Orioles it’s not so much about the team on the field, but the camaraderie of the fans, the celebration of warmer weather, and the beauty of Camden Yards, arguably the MLB’s greatest ballpark. With that said, here’s to the hope of a winning season, a hope that has not totally left Baltimore. And speaking of hope, we’ve gotten quite a few inquiries as of late from those of you on the waitlist. If you are one of those currently on our waitlist, your wait may not be too much longer, as we expect to begin review of our waitlist by the end of May. Moreover, you can certainly positively affect your chances for admission to UMBC by submitting any updated score reports or mid-year grade reports. Best wishes to each of you whom are currently winding out the home stretch of your high school careers, and perhaps I’ll “see you at the yard.”

In the mean time, can anyone identify the following structure? It’s a picture I snapped while walking around downtown Hartford and thought it was quite intriguing. Until next time, Mike

One year later…

Wow…One year ago to the day I was hired as an admissions counselor in the office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation, and my time started with the whirlwind of spring programs that kicks off with Just for Juniors and ends with out of state receptions in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  While an incredibly hectic trial by fire at the time, I was more than prepared thanks to my career as an undergraduate here at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  Now, one year later, its already less than 24hours from the next Just for Juniors.  With that said, I’d like to share a few bits of advice that I’ve picked up over the past year for those of you who might be attending our program tomorrow:

  1.  Arrive early enough for an “Early Bird” tour if you can.  This will give you more time to check out information sessions and talk with current students, faculty, staff, and alums later
  2. Ask questions! While tomorrow will bring together over 3000 individuals from both sides of the admissions process, we cannot foresee every potential inquiry.  If there is something that you would like to know about UMBC, I can assure you that those on hand will love answering your questions or at least point you in the direction of someone who can.
  3. Listen.  This goes in hand with the previous point.  While there may be certain things you must know the answer to, you might be surprised by what else you find important if you pay close attention during the planned sessions.   I’ve learned more about the school I’ve been a part of for ten years in just the past one year by simply listening in our presentations.


And that’s it; three simple tips for getting the most out of Just for Juniors (or really any campus visit).  I look forward to meeting with many of you there, and helping to make your experience an enjoyable one.  Also, if you have been following our admissions counselor’s blog, please don’t hesitate to introduce yourselves.  One last tip is that I can promise you myself and each of the other counselors would love your direct feedback.


Where are you going after college?

Just last week, UMBC’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation hosted a reception for students and their families already admitted for the Fall of 2012. At this reception, beyond the familiar faces of current students, staff, and faculty were also graduates of UMBC, there to share their tales of where they currently were, and how UMBC helped them get there. And while we have many esteemed graduates, some of whom are in fact closing in on retirement, what I found to be most interesting were the stories of those who had graduated in this millennium. Stories from students whom have had life experiences more similar to the newest class of incoming freshman and myself than to the pioneers of the university from the 70s and early 80s. From these recent graduates our attendees learned a number of personal histories in intimate conversations. One story in particular that stood out to me was from an alum had previously been a Bio-Chemistry major here at UMBC, and was a mere 3 semesters away from graduation with a cum laude GPA. Now if the story were to stop here, many, many UMBC students would fit that bill. But what happened next is what I think is noteworthy. That student realized that his heart just wasn’t into bio-chem, he had chosen the major due to natural aptitude and external pressures, not because it was what he really wanted to do in life. And at the same time he realized this, his advisor here at UMBC noticed the students change in heart as well, and rather than coerce him into trudging on against his desires, that advisor helped the student realize where his true passion lie. The student then switched to a psychology major and completed that degree within 2 years of intensive study, and found himself incredibly fulfilled. Just under ten years later, he now works as a director at a non-profit which assists students in following their dreams as well. Had he been at an institution other than UMBC, he’s not certain that he would have received the same guidance that he did to be successful in life, and for that he was clearly incredibly thankful and now speaking on our behalf for the first time at a admitted students’ reception. So now I must ask, what do you want to do in life beyond college, and have you seen how UMBC can get you there?

Also, just to provide a bit of inspiration to go with this first week of spring, here is a picture from in front of the office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Go Retrievers!

As some of you may already know, in addition to being an alum of UMBC and an admissions counselor, I am also a former athlete and current coach of the UMBC Wrestling team. The team just returned from Daytona Beach Florida where the NCWA National Tournament was held, and for the first time in team history, we had 4 student athletes earn All-American honors, and 2 earn Academic All-American honors. I’m incredibly proud of all UMBC has to offer, and it is especially fulfilling to be a first hand part of this newest batch of accolades. Now that the wrestling season is over, however, the college fair season is in full swing. With myself personally having attended 3 fairs in the past 2 days, I have encountered a number of prospective transfers with questions about what is required of them. For those of you that have already applied and haven’t heard back, please make sure that your online checklist status is “completed” and if there are any items that are not “completed” please make sure to submit those required materials ASAP. Additionally, for those of you whom have not yet applied as transfers, please remember that we need official copies of transcripts from all previous institutions attended, regardless of whether or not those credits are listed on a subsequent transcript. Finally, if you are uncertain about the status of your application, please do not hesitate to contact us here at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation, and it will be our pleasure to make sure that you are able to advance to the next stage of your academic career here at UMBC.

Its college fair season!

After a 3 month winter hibernation (mostly spent reading hundreds of impressive applications), yesterday was the date of my first scheduled fair for the spring recruitment season.  I have to admit, that while speaking about UMBC typically comes naturally to me, somewhere around the middle of the 2 hour drive to Eastern, PA, I felt a bit nervous.  I wondered what these nerves stemmed from, and just decided to move on.  It wasn’t until after set up and speaking with my first set of interested parents with their daughter that I realized what it was.  I was worried that I might forget to mention some key piece of information about UMBC that could make or break a student’s decision one way or another.  But it was at the end of that first interaction that something that always flowed naturally, calmed my nerves.  I reminded this very interested prospective UMBC student and her family about the importance of visiting not only UMBC, but any University she may be interested in attending, as it is that on-campus experience that is the final, and very important component of the college decision making process.  Which brings me to my next point for those of you juniors reading this right now – Just for Juniors is right around the corner on Saturday, March 31st.  Just for Juniors is an excellent opportunity to not only get to see UMBC’s campus in person, but to also meet representatives from all areas.  Click the following link for more info, and look forward to seeing you then!


What does the future hold for you?

As not only a current employee of UMBC, but also as an alumnus, I have made many great connections and friendships in my time here. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it is remarkably simple to maintain those friendships with a simple G-chat, email, or Facebook message or wall posting. Now, as an admissions counselor, it is particularly interesting to see just where UMBC has helped many of these friends get to in their professional lives. One friend in particular, a recent graduate of the Computer Science program, was just discussing with me on G-chat earlier this week his professional career options. He currently has a great, high paying, “traditional” job with a large programming company, but he is feeling the pull to follow up with independent mobile phone app and game development. After much consternation, it appears as though he’s going to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and go off on his own soon, especially since he’s still young enough to take such chances. Shortly following this conversation, I was forwarded an email which I thought came at the perfect time. In this email was a link to the following article:


We are now considered one of the top undergraduate programs in the country for Video Game design, and I think my friend’s experience is evidence of that, and I wish him the best both for himself, and to perhaps gain a reputation that helps bolster our ranking in the not too distant future.

Happy (almost) New Year!

Something easy to forget is that unlike most people, college students do not think about December 31st as being the last day of the year.  Instead, as enrolling in graduate school has reminded me, the end of the (school) year is the day of one’s last final, and the weeks leading up to that last final are especially hectic.  UMBC is no exception in this regard, however, despite being busy with finals, there are certain responsibilities that a new spring transfer student should not neglect.  For students transferring into UMBC, a top priority is signing up for orientation.  Orientation for students transferring into UMBC is more than just a chance for one to learn how to best experience our campus, but it is also where transfers will first meet with an adviser and register for spring classes.  Orientations are filling up fast, however, so if you are looking for a way to be productive in your study breaks, taking the time to sign up then is a great option. To do so simply log onto your myUMBC account and follow the directions posted there, don’t forget that in order to do so you must have paid your spring deposit.  I’m going to get back to studying for my finals now, and best of luck to each of you on yours, and don’t forget to signup for orientation!

Deadlines and Daylight Savings

So just as Halloween has come and gone, the Early Action deadline has passed, and well over a thousand of you have already submitted your application to UMBC.  Not all apps are created equal, however.  As most of you already know, we are a member of The Common Application, and as part of our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability here at UMBC, we prefer electronic submissions as opposed to paper wasting ones.  There is also another bonus to you, the student, for applying electronically too!  By submitting your application and associated documents electronically (transcripts, score reports, letters of recommendation…), you will be able to view within The Common Application when UMBC has downloaded your documents.  What that means is less nerve wracking, webpage refreshing, checklist watching; and more calm knowledge that your application is in the competent hands of our admissions staff, who will be matching it up to your checklist on your MyUMBC.

Also, in case you feel like you have fallen behind in your studies, or really burned the midnight oil to make sure you submitted your Early Action Application on time and are missing out on sleep – Dont forget that this weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, and you can pick up an extra hour on Saturday night!

The Keystone State

Pennsylvania has often been described as a microcosm of The United States as a whole, in terms of offering a mix of big cities, rural farmlands, and the small towns and suburbia in between. As I’ve spent the first of many weeks travelling about the Keystone state, I’ve noticed that analogy to be true. One underlying constant prevailed, however, regardless of whichever geographic area I occupied there were always great schools with strong students. Something else that I’ve noticed while travelling about Pennsylvania is that many students have a great interest in pursuing athletics while in college, either as part of one of our 19 NCAA Division 1 sports teams, or as part of one of our inter or extramural club programs. With that said, as a coach in the aforementioned athletic department, I’m quite excited for the fall sports as they’re now entering the meat of conference play, and the winter sports are all now beginning their preseason. Hopefully we’ll have quite a few Retrievers to cheer on these post-seasons, and a good number of new representatives of the Keystone State on our rosters next season.

Until next time from the road, Mike.