Friday, October 11, 2019

Day 257

Through my College Access and Choice course this semester, I am participating in a service-learning opportunity. October is College Application Month, but in my state, it's actually Louisiana College Application and Access Month. Today, I volunteered at a high school for their College Application Day, and I helped seniors fill out college applications at a high school located about an hour and a half from where I live. In each class, I introduced myself with a spiel that went something like this:

Hi everyone! My name is Kimberly Davis, and I am a Ph. D. student at LSU. I am here to help you with your college applications and answer any questions you might have. I earned my bachelor's degree at Mercer University, which is a small private school, and my master's degree is from Arkansas Tech University, where I was an online student. If you have any questions about private institutions, online learning, or LSU, I am happy to answer those too! 

I did not have to answer any difficult questions; many of the issues that arose had more to do with navigating the application websites than the content of the applications. What was particularly exciting was seeing students finish their applications and feel accomplished for getting the ball rolling on their college processes. Most of the students were applying to state schools nearby, and I was surprised at how many were applying to their local community college. (While they worked, I walked around to answer questions and see where they were applying.)

Most students were either filling out college applications or searching for scholarships, but one student had Google pulled up on his Chromebook and had searched for "phd student." I had to pause for a moment and remember that while "Ph. D." is something that is a huge part of my life right now (and one of the top five topics I discuss with...anyone ever), I cannot assume that everyone knows what that is when I talk about it. Tonight when I came home, I read one of my readings for class on Monday, and it was about jargon and college knowledge. I spewed out all kinds of higher education terms in the 30 seconds I took to introduce myself--not a great idea for seeming like an approachable, relatable person to ask for help. These students are going through college application processes that differ from mine in many ways, and I just know I must have looked like a dodo. Fortunately, I managed to build some rapport with several of the students as we worked through their applications.

As I have learned more about college access this semester, something I have worried about is seeming unrelatable because I did not have obstacles to pursuing a college education. I do try to be honest about that fact, and I hope that my concern comes across as genuine when I serve students. College access is climbing the ranks of things I am passionate about, and I want to do meaningful work in expanding access to higher education. Realistically, I will likely always struggle with this as long as I am in the higher education field, but I hope I will come across as authentic when I serve others. Hopefully, the joy of the service will overtake my worries soon.

Free clip art of a Dodo bird wearing a crown...because I felt like a queen dodo bird today.

Something that made today great: I stopped at Billy's and picked up some boudin and pepperjack boudin balls. Yum!
Time I woke up: 5:15 am

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