By Zachary Klein
Applications rushed to Rider University’s admissions office, and freshman admissions counselor Olivia Orlando got her first taste of the frenetic pace expected at this time of year. His desk cluttered with papers and his computer flooded with emails as Orlando felt the stress of his first application round.
Orlando, a 2021 Arts and Entertainment Industries Management graduate from Rider, was brought on full-time to the team as an admissions counselor in March 2022 after serving as a tour guide while a junior. cycle and graduate assistant after graduating. The promotion was a natural progression for someone who has dedicated so much time to the department.
“I had a very good reaction [to getting the job] just because I already knew the staff and felt really comfortable with them,” Orlando said.
Orlando, whose current territory includes Atlantic, Cape May, and Ocean counties in New Jersey as well as Delaware, also covered all applicants planning to audition. This included those applying for musical theater or acting programs. She is responsible for applications from states from which Rider does not usually receive applications, but may for an audition program.
“Most likely our musical theater and theater applicants are from out of state, so we might have a random person from Nebraska applying to Rider…I’m the go-to person for them,” Orlando said.
Originally from Cranford, New Jersey, Orlando came to Rider with the goal of gaining a memorable college experience while building relationships that would propel her where she wanted to go in a career. When she became a graduate assistant, she immediately began to take initiative in many of the areas she was working on with the campus visitation team, explained Hannah Ford, senior assistant director of undergraduate admissions.
“I would describe Olivia as someone who constantly thinks of new ideas and wants to push herself,” Ford said.
Ford has directly supervised Orlando in all areas as a tour guide, graduate assistant, and now as an admissions counselor. The visiting team managed elements of potential students coming to campus. There were many aspects to planning these types of events, but Orlando was responsible for group tours, “Bronc for a Day” and “Explore the Arts Day”, which are events for potential incoming students to explore campus. and specific programs offered.
“Explore the Arts Day is the day students can just come and explore the arts at Rider,” she remarked. “They could attend a class with the faculty and even do a master class with the faculty or some sort of presentation will take place.”
In addition to planning and hosting on-campus events with the visiting team, Orlando and all Admissions Counselors also traveled off-campus to high schools and college fairs in the areas they cover. Orlando recently visited Delaware where she met students at up to four high schools a day and larger college fairs at night. She also conducted Zoom interviews for those who weren’t able to come to her events or those who live in a state where Rider won’t be traveling. These individual meetings with students resumed recently when the common application opened on August 1st.
Orlando loved connecting with his prospective students and telling people about Rider in general. As someone who graduated in three years but decided to stay and get a master’s degree, she loved the school and the campus and wanted to share her passion with those looking to attend Rider.
“I really like connecting with students earlier, even setting up Zoom dates with them if they’re from out of state and want to talk more,” Orlando said.
Although she was only an admissions counselor for seven months, Orlando convinced students to attend Rider long before she started working in that field. Maddie Caccavale has known Orlando since they starred in a summer theater production in their hometown of Cranford in 2016. She said Orlando had a big impact on colleges. not only academically, but also the major she would be pursuing.
“I was browsing Instagram one day and saw Olivia who had just signed up with Rider for this major,” Caccavale said. “So I texted him and asked him a bunch of questions and finally ended up committing to Rider.”
Both Ford and Caccavale consistently pointed out that Orlando’s character and skill were the secret to why she was so successful and so successful in such a short time. An Admissions Counselor would not be described as an easy job as there was significant human interaction with a difficult group of people – teenagers and their parents.
But Orlando planned events as an arts and entertainment industries specialist at Rider, and the skills she learned in the classroom effectively translated into those she planned for admissions. Ford wanted to make sure she was doing everything she could to help Orlando achieve her goals.
However, it’s not just the professional relationships that define Orlando’s character. Her outgoing personality has allowed her to have great personal relationships with the people she works with. Orlando was a member of the admissions office’s book club and attended a conference with Ford and other counselors over the summer in Orlando, Florida. She also maintained relationships with many tour guides, including Caccavale, who continued to use Orlando as a great resource.
“She’s so go-getter and she’s so friendly, like she would never make you feel stupid,” Caccavale said. “She’s the kindest, most compassionate person and so easily approachable.”
For Orlando, her favorite part of the job was knowing that some of the students she met on the road and at admissions events would come to Rider and make it the same place she loved all those years ago. She found this part incredibly rewarding and hoped to see the students she interviewed on campus.
“The most rewarding part for me is just knowing that I was able to have such an impact on the students that they come to college,” Orlando said.
And that was his number one goal.