I’ve never run a marathon (or even a 5k, if we’re being honest) but having been through a few travel seasons. I can conﬁdently say the two are not too different. I deﬁnitely suffer from the “sophomore slump” where, about midway through my second trip, I realize that I’m not even halfway done and feel like it will never end. I write this on my ﬂight to Houston, which is my longest trip and the midway point for my travel season. This is always the hardest trip for me because it is smack dab in the middle and I don’t know how many more times I can introduce myself while ﬁghting the urge to make up a new personae each day.
There is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ between airport trips, visits, and fairs–which wears on me. It is also very trying to be on your feet and upbeat all day. Talking all day is always tiring, but being the center of attention as you talk is a whole different ball game (hats off to you, teachers/professors). Saying the same thing time and time again while having enthusiasm as if it’s your very first presentation is tough. I can sometimes ﬁnd myself on autopilot and, all of a sudden, not know if what I’m saying has already been said to this group or only the three previous groups. Fortunately, all it usually takes for me to rejuvenate is an engaged group of students who are excited by what USC has to offer. The most obvious thing that keeps me going is believing in the University I represent and reminding myself that even if only one student is paying attention I could really be making a difference to him or her.
I have highlighted some of the joys of living out of a hotel but let me share one of my biggest frustrations… I am a pro at demagnetizing hotel keys. This week, I used a key to get into a side door of the hotel and demagnetized it by the time I got to my room. I have included a tweet that highlights my feelings about this (see below). Hotel gyms are also very hit or miss. When you ‘fall off the wagon’ and end up eating two slices of Whole Foods pizza (for only $5!!!!) regularly for dinner, you want a functioning elliptical. There are a lot of variables that go into a high school visit that also cause me angst. If visitor parking is full, where are you least likely to get in trouble for parking? One school I’ve visited is under construction and the main ofﬁce and college center have been in a different place each of the three times I’ve been there. On occasion, there will be a school where no students come and I feel like the last kid picked on the softball team.
Being away usually coincides with some holidays or other events. How do you compensate for missing someone’s birthday every year? What do you do when you are accustomed to having season tickets to football but are gone for most games? Last year, I was doing interviews on my birthday. Luckily, my best friend ﬂew in to Houston and the other representatives from USC went out to celebrate with us. Also, when is the last time you watched a television show live? It becomes very difﬁcult to keep up with the shows you love. Though this may sound trivial, it is an embarrassingly important part of my life. Since I have had the same territory for a while, I have come to know representatives from other schools. We run into each other at college fairs and high schools. It is SO NICE to have people around you who are doing the same thing, can share restaurant recommendations, and tip you off regarding the location of a school’s college center. Admission is a much smaller world than I had anticipated, so it has been nice to ﬁnd friends and make connections all over. The Texas representative from University of South Carolina and I always share a special giggle at a college fair as some people’s minds are blown that we are two different schools.
In general, recruitment is a great part of the admission cycle because you see where students are coming from (literally and ﬁguratively). You’re also able to get out of the ofﬁce for a bit. The tougher parts of it are balanced out by the students you can meet and new communities that you build all over the country. If only I could return to a hotel room that included my DVR and animals.