Above: Nearly 150 high school counselors attended one of two counselor breakfast events hosted by the Midwest College Showcase, a collaboration between the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
The Midwest College Showcase, a collaboration between the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and the Great Lakes Colleges Association, hosted nearly 150 high school counselors over two days of programming to discuss topics relevant to students applying to liberal arts colleges.
At each of the two February events, held at Maggiano’s in Chicago and nearby Schaumburg, counselors gathered for breakfast and informal conversation with admissions officers from among the ACM and GLCA’s 27 collective colleges, followed by two panels from the consortia speaking on general admissions topics and financial aid, respectively. Each event concluded with a college fair.
“The counselor breakfasts were a huge success this year! The counselors were engaged more than ever, and we discussed many of the hot topics including mental health, the upcoming FAFSA changes, and students applying test-optional,” said Kyle Vowell, Associate Director of Out-of-State Recruitment at Wabash College. “The collaboration between ACM and GLCA allowed us to engage with over 100 counselors at two separate events for a fraction of the cost of hosting just one event for Wabash.”
During the admissions panel on February 28, the speakers spoke of the benefits of attending a small residential liberal arts college, including the individual attention students receive, a topic of particular importance as mental health concerns have risen on campuses following COVID-19.
“Something that I hear across the board at liberal arts colleges is that you have so many people supporting you on campus that it’s very hard to fall through the cracks,” said Jordan Castillo, Assistant Dean of Admissions at St. Olaf College. “If you don’t show up for class, your professors could reach out to you, or see you walking along the quad and be like, ‘Hey, how are you doing? How are things going? I didn’t see you in class today.’ The Academic Resource Centers are usually very, very full of people to support students. The mental health resources can be very specific according to the needs that they have,” he added.
That individual support also provides academic benefits, according to Martha Stolze, Director of Admissions at Beloit College.
“We have lots of students that we call multi-decided—they want to do media studies and environmental studies, and on the surface, those two things don’t necessarily seem connected. And I think places like the schools represented here today are fantastic at helping those students who have a very broad range of academic areas of interest find those intersections and find the interdisciplinary ways to explore some really interesting questions and topics from a variety of lenses,” Stolze said.
The Midwest College Showcase provides counselors, parents, and students with opportunities to explore and learn more about small Midwest private residential colleges. “This collaboration between the ACM and GLCA builds on decades of both consortia separately organizing ‘joint admission’ events and activities,” said Betsy Hutula, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration at ACM.
“After a successful pivot to virtual activities during the pandemic, these breakfasts were the Midwest College Showcase’s first foray back into in-person gatherings. We tailored the program to cover topics that were of most interest to counselors and their students, and we are thrilled that so many counselors joined us. We will be adding more information on the topics covered to the Midwest College Showcase website and look forward to hosting more in-person and virtual events to help students consider and access a liberal arts college experience,” Hutula said.
On April 19 and 20, 2023, the group will host two virtual sessions intended for students and families to learn more about applying to and attending a liberal arts college. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from all participating campuses.