Life as an Adviser: Zack Writes about Empowering Students Outside the Classroom

Truth be told- I lucked into this position. Once I completed my undergraduate degree at Appalachian State, I was at a loss. I had just spent the last four years of my life working towards something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do anymore. My degree is in History, Secondary Education, and while I loved working with students, I felt that maybe teaching wasn’t the career for me. 

I was immediately drawn to this position because it would allow me to serve a similar role to that of a teacher. While I wouldn’t be in the classroom, I could still make a positive impact in the lives of students- which was part of why I initially pursued a teaching career. Students are constantly bombarded with deadlines, extracurriculars, graduation requirements, jobs etc. during their senior year. At the end of each day, the idea of doing more work in the form of applications, FAFSA and RDS can be daunting, especially for those who are tasked with doing this all on their own. I hope to serve as a positive figure in students' lives and help to guide them through this difficult process and time in their lives.

My favorite aspect of this work is the students and getting to hear their stories about why they want to go to college or what they plan on doing after graduation. The absolute best part of the job, though, is when a student realizes their passion or discovers the path that they want to take, and I get to help them reach that goal. For some students, there is this expectation that they should already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 17 or 18 years old. I am here to let them know it is okay to be unsure, NOW is the time to be unsure, and that there is always someone in their corner to help them work through this process.

Another aspect that has been rewarding for myself is being a brand new face in the school. In some ways it is intimidating, mostly because I have to make my presence known to students while not stepping on the toes of teachers and staff,  but I know it is beneficial to these students because sometimes they need a fresh face in their life. Most of these young adults have seen the same teachers or counselors for 3-4 years and may feel as though they have already established a specific identity or reputation for themselves, but as a new face in the school, I represent a blank slate for these students: someone who has no preconceived notions about them. This is important because the student may feel that they have set themselves up for failure, but I get a wonderful opportunity to be a catalyst for this student to make a positive change in their life.

This job has challenged me in a lot of ways as well. One of the biggest reasons why I felt teaching wasn’t the career for me is because I felt that I didn’t do a good enough job of connecting with students. Now, I meet with students every single day and try to convince them that they are good enough for this college, for that scholarship, this career path, and empower them to navigate through this difficult time in their life. Those students who come by my office to celebrate their success make it all worth it.

Published: Feb 7, 2020 11:28am