This week we welcome Associate Director for Guest Experience, Andrew Cohen, to the blog. Welcome, Andrew!
As the leader of Georgia Tech’s campus visits team, part of my role is to plan and execute our daily visit program, open houses and events. I love the thrill of event planning – from the initial conversations about the vision of the event to seeing it all come together. Being a professional event planner, I often find my event planning skills and thinking spill over into my personal life… just ask my friends when it comes to making plans… everything is a production!
Right now, our team is preparing for multiple events on campus. We are excited to host a large group of high school seniors this week for our open house event. This weekend we host our annual counselor fly-in program for college counselors from all over the county and world.
Event planning is much like preparing to submit a college application. Everything leads up to the moment you press the submit button. Like an event, there are multiple people involved in this process, like your college counselor and parents. There are also times when things do not go according to plan, and you must be prepared for these situations. As you work on your college application, here are some helpful event planning tips to help you stay organized and be prepared to hit that submit button.
Understand the Bigger Picture
When planning events, it is crucial to understand the big picture. Sometimes we get so caught up in our to-do list that we forget we need to take a step back. This week we are hosting multiple events in a short amount of time. This requires me to understand the impact different to-do list items have on other people assisting with the event, not to mention the event’s overall success. For example, although we have several events this week, we also must think long term as space reservations become available for next year. If we do not reserve these spaces now, we will face challenges when hosting events next year. It’s hard to think about a year from now when there’s something else in the immediate future.
When it comes to preparing your college application, it is essential to understand the bigger picture. You will need assistance from others, so it is important to think about their schedules and what else they might have on their plate. Teachers and college counselors are happy to help with your college application, but you need to understand what else is on their plate and remember they are helping multiple students, not just you.
Understanding when a college needs your high school transcript will help you know when you need to request this from your college counselor. You cannot expect them to drop what they are doing to submit your transcript the second you ask. They are submitting transcripts for many students to multiple schools. Putting your request in well in advance is necessary to ensure they are all delivered in a timely manner. (This also goes for teacher recommendations, so make sure to give them plenty of time to write and submit the letter).
Proofread… Proofread… Proofread!
When we host a large open house event, we have multiple sessions, in multiple locations, with many different presenters. These sessions and their locations are all listed on a program for guests to use to navigate the event. We have a separate list of spaces we have reserved for the event, and another spreadsheet listing all the sessions, locations, and names of presenters. For an event to run seamlessly, we must be sure all these different lists and spreadsheets match what is listed on the program given to our guests.
If we didn’t carefully proofread, anything could happen at the event. We could be sending guests to a room we do not actually have reserved. Or maybe a faculty member could show up to the wrong building or room, maybe even at the wrong time!
Whenever I review an event program, I always proofread by crosschecking these additional lists/spreadsheets. I must be sure all the times and locations are correctly listed on all of them and be sure a presenter has been secured for each presentation.
When finishing your college application, you need to proofread! Yes, I know you have probably read your essay 100 times, but one last thorough read is worth the effort! I always print copies of my event programs to review, and you should do the same with your application. I know it’s not the most environmentally friendly option, but it will help with that final review (plus, that’s why recycling exists!). A final proofread is your chance to be sure all your application details make sense and show up correctly. After every application deadline, our Communications Center receives hundreds of calls and emails about minor errors on an application (which we cannot update). I bet many of these could be avoided by printing out your application and reviewing it one final time from start to finish (and ask someone else to read it too!)
Have a Rain Plan
Over the past year the weather has not been in our favor. We can plan an awesome event that runs smoothly, but the one thing out of our control is the weather! Torrential downpours can obviously affect our event and we must be prepared for these situations. This might mean we pre-order rain ponchos for our guests, or we make last-minute changes to the program to keep guests inside a bit more.
It may not be rain that affects our event, but a fire alarm set off by another department, or a power outage in the building (all things that have happened to me before!). These things are out of our control, and as much as we are prepared for our event to run smoothly, we must be ready to think on our feet and make last-minute changes. Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite parts of being an event planner. It tests me and keeps me on my toes. No, I do not hope we have pouring rain or other disruptions, but I do enjoy the thrill of needing to quickly make a change and implement it with our team.
When submitting your college application, you will encounter hiccups and issues. Many of our early action applicants encountered a curveball this year when they logged into Common App and received a message (in bold red letters) that the deadline had already passed. The deadline had not passed, and students could still submit their applications. But this situation could have been avoided by submitting your application a few days (or a week) before the deadline! Building extra days into your timeline allows for extra time should there be an issue with the processing of your application or application fee. Giving yourself a few days helps you avoid panic when you run into an issue at 11:59 p.m. prior to the deadline. (Please note… Admission Offices are not open at that hour and we will not respond to emails/calls until the next day).
As you continue to work on your college application, build a to-do list, similar to the one I have sitting on my desk as we get ready to host a number of events over the next week (bonus tip: when you complete an item/task, it feels great to cross that item off the list!). As we are busy working on putting the finishing touches on our events, you can do the same with your applications.
Andrew Cohen joined Georgia Tech in 2018 and currently oversees the guest experience for all Undergraduate Admission visitors. His love for providing visitors with informative, authentic and personal experiences started as a student tour guide at his alma mater, Ithaca College. Andrew’s passion for the visit experience has lead him to his involvement in the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association, where he currently services as the Treasurer on their executive board.
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