Pete Lien goes the extra mile for students as the director of first-year recruitment at Concordia. Tailoring the experience to each student’s needs, his goal is to put future Cobbers at ease during the admission process.
Would you briefly describe your role at Concordia?
I am currently the director of first-year recruitment. I manage all of our admission representatives who work with our prospective first-year students, assess and assign territory goals, outreach expectations, travel, etc. I am also a member of our admission committee and scholarship committees for BREW, Diversity, STEM, as well as traditional academic scholarships. Along with Ryan Rude, I also work very closely with Cobber Athletics, providing enrollment updates and supporting their recruitment efforts. In addition, I am lucky enough to be able to work with all of the high schools in the Fargo-Moorhead area, including Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. This will be my eighth year working at Concordia College.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of working in the Admission Office is the ability to work with students and their families. Being able to provide insight into the college search and helping them determine the best fit for them, regardless if it is Concordia College or not, provides a lot of intrinsic value for me as a person. After working here long enough to see students that I recruited as high school seniors transition into outstanding young people during their four years here and then walking across the stage as Concordia graduates is pretty amazing. I obviously had nothing to do with them graduating, but seeing their accomplishments gives me a lot of pride as a Cobber grad myself.
What advice would you give a student that is hesitant about the admission process?
A lot of times, students tend to be self-conscious about their ACT/SAT score or their GPA. These things are guidelines for colleges to assess admission, but by no means are they the only determining factor of a student’s ability to be successful in college. If you want to go to college, there is a path for you. Whether that’s the fall after your senior year of high school or two years down the road. It doesn’t matter if you start at one college and transfer to another – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality for finding the right college. Find what works for you, seek resources, ask questions and never doubt yourself solely based on some test score or GPA. If you can find a place you feel comfortable learning and an academic area or topic that you are passionate about, things will tend to figure themselves out.
In your opinion, what sets Concordia apart from other institutions?
I think it’s the community of faculty, staff and students that makes this place stand out from other institutions. Concordia is much bigger than the content that is taught in our classrooms. It’s the fact that Sue Anderson in Dining Services knows every student’s name that comes through for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s the fact that our faculty ask you about your plans for the weekend or your family and not just next week’s exam. It’s the fact that people genuinely want to get to know you and, collectively as a community, want to help you find your passions in life – not just help critique a paper or find you a major. Here, the college experience is about connecting with others (similar and different) and developing a sense of purpose and an eagerness to influence the affairs of our communities and world in a positive way.
Why are admission reps important?
Admission representatives are important because they are the individuals that help educate students and families on the benefits, value and opportunities of higher education. Admission reps can ease stress, address concerns and help with understanding the differences in colleges – not to mention being experts on their individual institutions. Admission reps are also those individuals who will advocate for their students and take the time to get to know them better than what their transcript provides.
What are some of the common concerns that incoming students have? How does the enrollment team help make students feel at ease?
There are always a variety of concerns for incoming students, ranging from “will I fit in” to “how will I balance involvement in my co-curriculars and academics” to the most common, “how will I afford to attend this place.” Being able to connect students to the appropriate resources is crucial when addressing a student’s concerns. This is especially true when families have very specific questions regarding financial aid, scholarships, etc. As an enrollment team, we work very closely with the Financial Aid Office to ensure that Concordia is accessible and affordable to every individual. For the most part, families are pleasantly surprised on what can be offered through scholarships and financial aid. Having dedicated and expert financial aid colleagues makes that process a lot easier.
What qualities do you look for in prospective students?
There are a lot of things that I look for in a prospective student, but resilience and the ability to work hard are two qualities that I like to see the most. Students are faced with tough decisions, difficult transitions and a variety of life circumstances that can make attending college really hard. A student who is able to work through those things, seek the support they need and apply a strong work ethic typically means they will find success in college regardless of their academic profile coming out of high school.
What is your favorite thing to do on campus?
I love to walk down the main sidewalk toward the bell tower from Olson Forum during the fall when campus is looking the best and seeing new and returning students milling around. Now that we have Adirondack chairs all over campus, I wouldn’t mind grabbing one of those and just hanging out. At the end of the day, the students are the reason I love doing what I do. So to be able to see them on campus brings a certain level of fulfillment that is hard to describe.
Danyel Moe '17 is a content specialist at Concordia.