For some reason people always ask what I do on a daily basis as an admission counselor.  This could be for a number of reasons: my bizarre travel schedule throughout the fall, followed by the rare occasion of seeing sunlight while I read applications from November through March, or perhaps they just get the feeling I’m a shady individual (clearly a strong possibility…but false).

With all that said, I’m here to squash the rumors, and answer the all too familiar questions – What does an admission counselor actually do? I figured I’d give you a little insight into one of my days last week that had me hopping down to Washington, D.C. to cover a college program at a high school.  Tommaso Canetta, the Mayor of the Mid Atlantic, was invited to a college program at The Academy of the Holy Cross, just outside DC, but he couldn’t make it.  Now it just so happens that the Director of College Counseling for Holy Cross is a good friend of mine who I used to work with, AND I coordinate travel for our office, so I figured I would try to make this happen.  As you may know, we are very much in the middle of reading regular decision applications, so taking a day or two away from the office is not ideal at this time of year.

In my desire to convince our director that this was a great plan, I made sure I read as many applications as I could, and (possibly stupidly) proclaimed that I could do the entire trip from Boston to DC and back for $300 or less.  Just so everyone knows (and because I promised to include this), our director, Courtney Minden, didn’t force me to do this.  She didn’t need me going hungry or walking 10 miles instead of taking a cab; I WANTED THE CHALLENGE.  Plus, I could blog about it in a running diary.  The only caveat?  If I came in over $300, I would have to do something embarrassing just like Tommaso did when he came in last place in our fantasy football league last year:

TC Unicorn 2
I checked flights and I found some decent prices for only a week’s notice, $167.80 from Boston to Baltimore-Washington (BWI) on Jet Blue.  $132.20 left.

So, as you can see, life in this profession is basically like being James Bond or Jason Bourne.  My suggestion is that you right click HERE to open this in a new tab of your browser, turn up the volume, and just play this in the background while you read…it’s that exciting.  I’m going to leave out the boring work details until Part 2, where I actually earn my paycheck.

Thursday, January 31st
1:32 PM – I have two different presentations at the school tomorrow, “Athletics in College” and “The Importance of the Campus Visit,” so I suppose I should start those since my flight is at 4:00 PM, huh?  I manage to finish one on Prezi, say my goodbyes to the office, and start to pack up.

2:09 PM – I actually leave my office and walk to my car, only to realize that I left my printed boarding pass on my desk.

2:13 PM – This time I really leave my office and head to the airport.

2:43 PM – I planned on heading to economy parking to save few bucks toward my self-imposed $300 limit, but I’m cutting it close with the time, so I head to Central Parking, which is going to hurt my bottom line.   I also want to carry as little with me as possible, so I cram everything into one carry-on and ditch my jacket.  I mean, I’m going from Boston to DC; it’s going to be warmer, right? (Hint – this was incredibly stupid)!

3:00 PM Security.  I’m pretty confident that I’ll make it, but everyone for this terminal is going through the new scanners, so it takes a little bit longer.

3:30 PM – I’m all set.  I’m through security, but I’m starving since I worked through lunch.  Big mistake since lunch is not fitting into my budget today.  I’ll have to settle for some chewing gum until I get onto the plane and get my hands on some of those sweet, sweet Jet Blue snacks.

4:03 PM – The flight is delayed on the runway as a plane ahead of us has some repairs done, so you know what time it is…it’s nap time.

4:45 PM – TAKE OFF!  Also, one step closer to some snacks…today’s options are deluxe mixed nuts or chocolate chip cookies.  I went with the nuts, just in case you were wondering.

5:53 PM – We land! As I get off the plane and head toward ground transportation, I ask a gentleman working the Info Desk which direction I head to for Amtrak so I can get to Union Station in DC.  He points me in the right direction, then says, “You know, you can take Amtrak for $15 or youMARC Ticket can take the MARC for $6.”  SCORE.  From my flight times, it looked as though it was going to cost me $40 for a BWI – Union Station round trip.  Now I was looking at $12.  P.S.  It is ridiculously cold and windy in Baltimore and DC, so not bringing a coat was a bad decision.

 

6:40 PM – Hop on the train with my $6 ticket.  Next stop Union Station in DC.  Now you may be wondering how I plan on spending only $300 including a flight, hotel, and ground transportation.  It’s a good thing I’m super popular (lie #1) and have friends all over the globe (lie #2), because I am couch surfing for the night at a friend’s apartment!  RUNNING TOTAL – $173.80

6:41 PM – First complication: my friend left her wallet on the DC Metro, so not only did she need some major cheering up, but I would be covering her for the night.

7:15 PM – We pull into Union Station and I get a $3 metro ticket to DuPont Circle, and then walk to my friend’s apartment.  RUNNING TOTAL – $176.80

7:37 pm – I get to the apartment and she is obviously bummed about her wallet, so we check the Metro stop again, but nothing has turned up.  On the plus side, we head to Birch & Barley, an awesome restaurant in DC and have a great dinner.  RUNNING TOTAL – $228.80

Are you riveted?  I hope you didn’t pay for the whole seat, because you obviously only need the edge with this story.  This brings us to the end of Day 1, so we’ll finish up with Part 2 with only $71.20 to go.  Can I do it?  Stay tuned…

UPDATE:  For Part II click here.