3 goodbye lessons: On becoming a statistic, and embracing it

December 12, 2020
  • AACRAO Connect
  • AACRAO Staff
selfie of woman smiling at camera, blurred xmas tree in background

Hello, fellow AACRAOans,

My name’s Brooke Barnett. I’ve been the editorial force behind AACRAO Connect since its inception in 2013. Though I know many of you through (real and virtual) conferences, interviews, writing projects, or other collaborations, most of you I’ve never met. Yet here I am, introducing myself only to say: So long, and thanks for all the fish

Sorry, sometimes I leaven sentimentality with silliness.

What I’m really trying to say is this: I’m resigning from AACRAO, effective the end of December, and I’m going to miss you.

Subheads help break up copy family of four: man, woman, two children under 10, with dog, pose on a rustic wooden bridge over a creek, mountain the background

I am one of the millions of women leaving the workforce amidst the pandemic. I’m a mom to two elementary-age virtual schoolers, I’m a woman astounded at the gap between what I think I can accomplish and what I can actually accomplish, and I’m a body trying to keep healthy and connected and sane. 

So I leave behind AACRAO Connect, a newsletter I helped name, design, and breathe life into. It’s work I’m incredibly proud of, and I’m excited to see its future iterations as AACRAO stretches to meet the challenges facing higher education in this new and increasingly weird decade. 

3 takeaways, because 3s are rhetorically powerful

As I say goodbye to the association I’ve worked for since I was a grad student at Georgetown in 1999, I’ve noticed a few things. These I’d like to share with you below.

1. Avoid click-bait headlines. Seriously. We did some A/B testing comparing straightforward subject lines to ones with dramatic flair, and found some unexpected results. Sensational subject lines got more opens — but articles had fewer click-throughs. People opening the newsy subject line were more likely to click through to read the articles.

Now this is just raw data, so we can’t be sure what it means. My conjecture is that click-bait subject lines may trigger a response, but it’s not necessarily the response we want. Through Connect, AACRAO seeks to build genuine connection among colleagues, which is best cultivated through authenticity and earnestness. (However, don’t be afraid of a good listicle, as exemplified by this article. They’re a great way to get content across succinctly.)

2. Transitions are mirrors. Since sharing news of my decision with colleagues, I’ve been humbled by the expressions of appreciation and support I’ve received. Rather than slipping into the haze of “senioritis,” I feel reinvigorated by my work and hopeful for the future of our professions. It’s important to me to leave Connect strong and agile, ready to metamorphose as needed to serve our members.

As they say, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” I hope my departure is a catalyst for positive change and fresh energy at AACRAO, and that the nature of this transition reflects on and magnifies the integrity and hard work we’ve put into Connect over the years.

3. AACRAOans are the best. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Without exception, the hundreds of members I’ve met at conferences, on phone calls, and through leadership and other initiatives have been the most dedicated and ethical professionals a person could hope to work with. 

Our members are consistently looking out for the best interests of students. You believe in the promise of higher education, and your commitment and example have motivated me to do my best work.

It’s been a pleasure to serve your professional organization.

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What comes next for me is a bit of a mystery. I’m guessing I’ll be too busy doing all the stuff I’m doing now (minus my job) to add on much of anything new. But if I manage to find the time, I might do any or all of the following:

  • Freelance writing or editing projects.

  • Write another speculative fiction novel -- and this time try to get it published.

  • Take photos of Montana mountains and turn them into cards and calendars. 

I’ll always hold a warm place in my heart for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Thanks for having me.

- Brooke


A note from AACRAO

Brooke has been integral to AACRAO's strategic communication planning and execution. Although there are no words to fully express the hole left in our team by her departure, below are a few cheers and farewells from AACRAO members and staff.

Dear Brooke, Thank you for being such a great editor of Connect, and for giving me the opportunity to submit articles. I wish you the best in the next chapter of your life. You will be missed! - Laura Remillard | Associate Director of Graduate Admissions | Stanford University

Hi Brooke! I'm sorry to see you leave AACRAO, but wish you the best. I don't know if we actually ever met in person, but had many interactions through our Field Notes interactions, which I enjoyed. Take care and good luck with your future endeavors! - Cie Gee | Associate Vice Provost | University of Texas San Antonio

Thank you, Brooke! You're world-class talent and leadership as an editor have created an opportunity for a variety of higher education professionals to share our knowledge and experiences. I have appreciated how the Field Notes have provided me the opportunity to explore what I have learned in anti-oppression research and academic administration. I have grown as a writer, speaker and advocate by taking the time to reflect and write for AACRAO Connect. You've made this process exciting and joyful. I am grateful to have learned from your managerial style and your expertise in crafting headlines and creating concision. I hope you find as much joy in your next steps as you have brought to those like me who have had the pleasure of working with you! - Amy Harth | Senior Research Analyst | DeVry University

Thanks to Brooke Barnett, AACRAO Connect is not only great to read, it is great to write for as well. I have had the privilege of writing a couple of articles to contribute to Connect and Brooke has always been so positive, encouraging, and available to assist me. I am sad to see her depart from AACRAO but am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with her during her tenure with the organization. - Sherry Waldon-Wells | Assistant Vice Provost | Lamar University

All my very best to you in your next adventure, Brooke! Thank you for your dedication, support and many contributions to AACRAO over the years! You'll do great things! - Kristi Wold-McCormick | University Registrar | University of Colorado Boulder | AACRAO Board of Directors

Brooke: I have always valued your written work for AACRAO! The quality of the storytelling has been superb. You are the consummate professional. I have enjoyed working with you over the years to increase the visibility of the SEM Endorsement Program. You welcomed every idea I brought your way and always write an effective story. Hundreds of thousands of people were impacted by your communications. Thank you so much for your contributions! Best wishes! - Christopher Tremblay |Director of SEM-EP | AACRAO

Brooke has been a terrific help to me over the last few years as I contemplated article topics. She is always on top of things and supportive, she will be missed. Thank you for your support! - Cynthia Suter | Registrar | Norwich University

Brooke has been such a wonderful partner not only with the FERPA Professor columns, but also as the one who puts together all the FERPA Consulting contracts. I could always rely on her work to be quality and timely, professional in every way. I join all at AACRAO in wishing her all the best as she goes. - LeRoy Rooker | Senior Fellow | AACRAO

Brooke- It was great to get to know you 'virtually' over the last several years that I've been involved with Connect. Thanks for your help in developing my contributions! Best of luck in your future endeavors! - Nancy Walsh | Director of Admissions Operations |University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Brooke, It has been a privilege working with you the last two years. Your insight and comments were always fantastic, and I appreciated your down to earth and wry humor. I'll miss hearing about your garden (impeccable), local businesses I should shop at (I still have to order from your friend's honey shop), and your grammatical insights (which are surely crying at this paragraph of a sentence). The future is open for whatever you choose do with it. - Fahduma Majid | Communications Coordinator | AACRAO