Alex Werder’s new position in the Admissions Office requires him to tell high school seniors about the Kalamazoo College experience, but he doesn’t have to think back too far for the memories.
Werder, along with fellow new hire Jessica Williams, graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2015 and then started his new job at K less than a month later.
Williams majored in psychology while Werder majored in international area studies and minored in political science and Chinese. He returned from study abroad and throughout his senior year he started to think about being an admissions counselor.
“My senior year was chugging along and I kept coming back to this feeling: why would anyone want to leave college?” Werder said. “My time as a student had to end, but I thought, why would anyone want to leave this environment and community of learning?”
According to Werder, there weren’t originally openings in the admissions office for the 2015-2016 year. Then admissions counselor Emilee Suchomski suddenly moved, leaving an opening.
“Originally we were only planning on having Emilee leave,” Werder said. “Then we found out that another counselor that had been with us for four years was leaving, and that was later on in the summer.”
Part of the position requires Werder and Williams to travel in-state and out-of-state to recruit new first-years. Werder is responsible for New York to Virginia, and Wayne County, Michigan. Williams covers Alaska, Hawaii, southern Texas, Kentucky and Ohio, as well as Livingston, Macomb, and Monroe counties.
Werder and Williams spend most of Sept. and Oct. traveling to their territories. Werder is only in the office for eight days in Oct. and does high school visits and interviews with students, parents, and independent college counselors, as well as college fairs during travel season.
“By the time I can’t think about sleeping in another hotel bed, it’s time to come back to campus and start reading applications,” Werder said. “And by the time I don’t want to read any more Common App essays, it will be time for me to go back on the road for spring travel for March and April.”
Werder and Williams have responsibilities besides being traveling counselors. They manage the new H.I.V.E. program, and help coordinate on-campus programs like open houses and Visit the Zoo. According to Werder, parents and students often question why he’s an admissions counselor after just graduating.
“It’s something you don’t really think about until it’s on your doorstep. I think that’s probably the way it is with a lot of college jobs,” Werder said. “I think that basically you just need to be passionate about helping kids get connected to the right fit school and the right fit environment.”