By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart
The decision has been made. You’re going to go to college! You’ve figured out the basics like where and when, but beyond that, your next steps are a little fuzzy. That’s where Margaret Sullivan, Admissions Senior Staff Assistant, comes in. Sullivan has one very specific role at SUNY Broome. She is responsible for always having an answer to the question, “what is my next step?”
While the Admissions and Marketing & Communications teams at SUNY Broome have focused a substantial amount of time and effort into making our website clear, concise, user friendly, and accessible, both offices agree that nothing beats personal interactions with higher education professionals – like Margaret Sullivan.
“The Admissions staff is required to be well versed in a little bit about everything that happens at the College. We might not be the right office to answer your specific question, but should be able to address the basics and connect to you the best office that can,” shared Sullivan.
Sullivan began her professional career at her alma mater of SUNY Broome in 2019 as a part time Staff Assistant in Admissions, manning the Welcome Center. Sullivan spent each day answering hundreds of phone calls and emails addressing core questions pertaining to the enrollment process. In most cases, the questions posed were centered around “next steps,” like “What transcripts do I need to submit?” or “Am I ready to register for classes?”. While Sullivan was happy to assist prospective students with completing their applications or submitting their academic documents, her favorite questions dealt with helping students select their programs of study and assisting with long term academic planning.
Several months later, when a full-time enrollment-centered position was created through a Perkins Grant, Sullivan jumped at the chance to expand her time and experiences with prospective students. As the Perkins Career and Technical Education Enrollment Coach, Sullivan remained a member of the Admissions team, but focused her efforts on providing support for students entering Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs with plans for eventual transition into the workforce. A special population within her CTE jurisdiction included guiding “non-traditional by gender” students. These students select programs of study that historically have been dominated by a gender that differs from their own. (Ex. Women in engineering) Margaret pulls from her own pre-SUNY Broome experiences when supporting CTE students, as Sullivan herself was a “non-traditional by gender” employee working in both the automotive and military aerospace industries.
Sullivan spends a majority of her time meeting one-on-one with prospective students assisting them as they delve into their options at SUNY Broome. A meeting with Margaret Sullivan often begins with a Focus2 assessment. Focus2 is an online, interactive, self-guided career and educational planning system. It is designed to help prospective students explore career paths and occupations that match their personal preferences, skills, values, and aspirations.
“Focus2 is a great resource for beginning a conversation with a student. Often students just want to talk about the salaries that correlate with each program, but they often don’t consider the academic requirements that accompany some of these lucrative programs of study. The Focus2 assessment helps me flesh out the answers to key questions like “What type of learner are you?”, “How do you want to spend your professional time?,” or “what type of academic schedule works best for your personal life?”. Then we can develop successful academic and career plans based on informed decisions,” said Sullivan.
An ideal feature of the Perkins Grant is that it established a handful of positions across campus with the specific purpose of ensuring that CTE students have a designated point of contact for each stage of their academic careers at SUNY Broome. As CTE students navigate their way through the educational pipeline, they have access to support from an Enrollment Coach, two Academic Coaches, a Professional Tutor and Technical Assistant, and a Career Coach.
“CTE programs tend to attract non-traditional students who are looking to retool efficiently before reentering the workforce. Many of these non-traditional students have been away from the classroom for years, so being able to refer these students to resources across campus that were specifically designed with their needs in mind is such a great thing,” shared Sullivan.
Whether you are meeting with Sullivan in an on-campus “Walk-in Wednesday” visit, exchanging emails, or just bumping into her in line at the grocery store, her message of advice regarding studying at SUNY Broome is consistent. Sullivan encourages students to set realistic, attainable goals and to craft a schedule that will make attaining those goals feasible. She is a big promoter of tackling coursework at a pace that is manageable, even if that means taking classes on a part-time schedule or completing the classes in a remote learning format.
While she never wants to halt the momentum or excitement of a student who has finally decided to come to college, Sullivan does suggest that a prospective student should take a moment to reflect before embarking on an academic pursuit.
“Don’t be afraid to take some time to truly explore all of your academic and professional options and don’t be intimidated to learn a completely different skill set. People often fear transitioning into a new career path. While it may seem daunting, coming to college is designed to be supportively transformative. At this phase, you just need to be a student, not a master. It takes time, hard work, and accessible campus resources, but it absolutely can be done. I am happy to help with anything that I can along the way. Especially guiding you to your next step.”
SUNY Broome’s application for the Fall 2022 semester is FREE and takes 10 minutes to complete. Classes for the Fall 2022 semester begin on August 29, 2022.