Jayson Hodge is on the road again. This week he’ll be in Seattle, Washington. After that he’ll travel to Southeast Asia, followed by Cape Cod. There are also trips scheduled to Long Island and New Jersey, and, of course, visits around Connecticut.
This is a busy time of year for Hodge, a senior admissions counselor whose main job is to recruit high school students for admission to UConn. From mid-September through November, he visits four to six high schools a day, where he speaks to prospective students, their parents, high school counselors, and school officials.
Hodge, who has been an admissions counselor for the last 10 years, works with high school students as early as their sophomore year, but most of the students are juniors and seniors.
He recruits in Connecticut, New Jersey, and from time to time in other states around the country. He traveled to Turkey earlier this year for 10 days, as part of the admissions office’s expanded effort to recruit internationally.
Hodge, a UConn alumnus and former Day of Pride Scholar, graduated from the University in 1998 with a double major in psychology and an individualized major in administrative, civil, and criminal law.
“I wasn’t planning a career in college admissions,” he says. “I wanted to work for the FBI.” But one fateful day, during his senior year, his car broke down next to the Student Union.
“One of the admissions counselors, Larry Williams, saw me out there and we started talking,” he says, “and before long, I was working here.”
He has never regretted it.
“The nicest part about this job is working for UConn, which is a great place,” he says. “I love to work with students and to get them interested in coming here. When I talk about the University it’s easy because it’s such a strong product.”
His presentations at high schools, which usually run between 35 and 45 minutes, include information about the admissions process, student life, research opportunities, financial aid, the Honors Program, academic schools and colleges, and advising.
| Jayson Hodge, admissions counselor, won an award for excellence in college admissions counseling. Photo by Jessica Tommaselli
“After the talk, students come up and ask a lot of questions,” he says.
“That’s where we get to a lot of the individual counseling. High school students know where they want to go, but they have no idea what it’s going to take to get there. A student might say, ‘I want to be pre-med and music,’ or ‘I want to major in animal science and journalism.’ We try to address those issues.
“The job never becomes stale,” he adds.
Hodge reads and coordinates applications to make sure that students meet the University’s academic criteria for admissions. There are five other officers in freshmen admissions. Each officer tries to read about 60 applications a day, he says.
Hodge says his job offers him the opportunity to help others: “It’s an industry full of phenomenal people who are dedicated to making students’ lives better by giving them educational opportunities.”
“I especially enjoy getting a thank you letter from a student I’ve admitted, or seeing a student at an orientation session and knowing that they’re happy and made the right choice,” he says.
Hodge also trains recent UConn graduates to do recruiting, and has taught an FYE course on life skills for four years.
He recently received the William S. Neal Award for Excellence in College Admission Counseling. The award, from the New England Association for College Admission Counseling (NEACAC), is given to an individual in the field who has demonstrated a “true commitment to students, their institution, and career.”
He also served as an assembly delegate to NEACAC, taught new admissions counselors at the organization’s week-long summer institute, was planning committee co-chair of the group’s annual meeting, and has served on several committees.