After a week in students’ shoes, high school counselors share their perspectives on life at Lees-McRae

Each summer, the Office of Admissions invites high school counselors to campus to experience life as a Lees-McRae student, from dinners at The Summit and evenings in residence halls, to afternoons exploring the Elk Valley Preserve and the Theatre Arts facilities. This week of programming allows counselors to get an inside look at what life is really like for Lees-McRae students and informs them about all the opportunities Lees-McRae has to offer.

Not only is this a fun-filled week, but it also helps counselors provide more information to their high school students throughout their journey to find the college that is right for them. Through this experience counselors may be able to provide guidance to a future Bobcat who did not previously have Lees-McRae on their radar.

We spoke with two counselors who attended this year’s high school counselor experience about their time on the Lees-McRae campus and what they learned about the college. Kathryn Moody, department head for school counseling at Lynnfield High School in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, and Crystal Robinson, school counselor at Mayland Early College High School in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, each shared their thoughts.

Why were you interested in participating in the school counselor experience this year?

Robinson: “I was already familiar with Lees-McRae, I just wanted to learn more about the programs. We’ve sent several students, and several have applied and gone through your programs, and I just wanted to learn more about it so I could promote it even more to our students.”

Moody: “I actually read about it on the college admissions counselor Facebook page. They had put out a memo saying they still had some spots open for their program. I had read about it last year, so when I saw the Facebook post that they still had some openings, I put my name in and they picked me. I didn’t know anything about Lees-McRae, and I am sort of a college nerd. I like to learn new places.”

What did you learn about the college through this experience that you didn’t already know?

Moody: “I was kind of blown away by the Wildlife Rehabilitation program. That is such a niche program, and I had no idea you could do that as a major, so that was really fun to see. [Note: Wildlife Rehabilitation is a specialization in the Wildlife Biology major and a separate minor.]

One of the other programs I was super impressed with was the Theatre Arts program. Sometimes that’s a hard sell with parents, but it was nice hearing the director talk about what students were doing once they graduated. Looking at all the options he was able to present from the business aspect of it, to the production aspect of it, you could tell that he was talking students through the transition and making sure they could find a career.”

What are you most excited to take back with you from this experience and share with your high school students?

Robinson: “The new pre-med and pre-law tracks are really exciting. That resonates with our students because they are already taking college courses and will be graduating with an associate degree, so they are aware that the classes they take can be transferred to colleges. I’ve already thought of one student in particular who I think would be great for the pre-law track. I found those pathway programs really interesting.”

Moody: “The location itself. In New England we have mountain areas, and there are some colleges in mountain towns, but the location at Lees-McRae is number one. The access to the outdoors is great for any student that wants to do hiking and rafting and all that stuff. Having that combination of good academics and experiential learning, and the ability to access all those outdoorsy things is huge for students who want that combination.”

What kind of student do you think would thrive at Lees-McRae?

Robinson: “Our students are normally pretty self-disciplined anyway because they are going to early college. They are already used to taking college courses, so the students we send to Lees-McRae are the students we look for too—ones who are independent and can work well on their own.”

Moody: “Students who are motivated and driven and are wanting to chart their own path. You can tell some of the students we met were super independent, but also thrive on having people pour into them, and care about them, and want them to succeed.

The small community atmosphere is great for students who don’t want to be in a huge, sprawling school. At Lees-McRae, professors are going to know their names, and I definitely got the sense that everyone there has the desire to connect with students. That was really palpable.”

Get more information for high school counselors and educators

By Maya JarrellJuly 25, 2023