Meet Madelyn Barkes! Barkes is the newest member of the Grace College Online admissions team. She has a huge heart for serving others and is using her gifts to support students pursuing an online college degree. Plus…she’s a singer in a band! We sat down with Barkes to learn about all of these things and more!
Where are you from?
I grew up in Columbus, Indiana, about three hours south of Winona Lake. It’s the lesser known, but better, Columbus in my opinion! I am currently residing in Columbia City, Indiana for the summer, and then I plan to move to Winona Lake to be closer to my new office.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have a large family! I grew up with eight siblings: one sister and seven brothers.
I’m definitely used to having a lot of people around, and I think that getting along with so many personalities in one house has helped me become better at communicating about our online college degrees to a wide variety of people.
Another thing that not everyone knows about me is my family and I have our very own band. We sing a wide range of genres and have a blast doing it! Our first gig is coming up in Maine this summer.
How did you find Grace College?
To be completely honest, I googled it! When I searched for “Christian colleges,” Grace was one of the first to come up. When my mom and I visited campus, I could not deny the presence of God here and in the people that make Grace so special. After that visit, my mom and I both agreed – Grace was the place for me! It’s awesome that my love for Grace has turned into a job where I can now help students pursue online college degrees that fit around their schedules and passions.
What brought you to this job?
My undergraduate major at Grace College was English with a minor in digital marketing. While I was at Grace, any campus job I had was recommended to me. Someone had recommended me as a resident assistant and then again as a student ambassador. Both of those were great experiences, and I’m so glad I was pushed to take those roles, but I never had to step out of my comfort zone to pursue them. The Online Admissions Counselor job was the first job I had to seek out and apply for by myself. I’m so glad I did!
What do you like most about your role?
The work environment in the admissions office at Grace is what I love most about my job. Everyone has been so welcoming to me! The admissions team invites me to hang out and play cards after work, and my boss has been so kind.
With a job all about serving those beginning online college degrees, having a team that is encouraging and loving makes my role feel easy. They empower me to do the best work I can!
What does a typical day look like in your role?
Because I work primarily with people online, my meetings, conversations, and connections are all virtual. This type of setup makes it easy for students to feel like they’re alone. To help meet that need, I get to be the human connection to the process so that they know they have a real, authentic person to talk to. I want to walk alongside them throughout their journey to Grace and make them feel supported!
What questions do you get the most?
Admissions counselors have to be ready to answer a wide variety of questions! In my time here so far, I have seen some themes. One major differentiator for those pursuing online college degrees is meeting arrangements. Many students ask if they will need to log in at the same time each day for a video meeting. With Grace College Online, flexibility is key. Classes are pre-recorded so students can log in and watch at whatever time works best for them.
Another big question concerns the cost of education with Grace College Online. I love answering the question about cost and watching their reaction. They are excited and surprised almost every time because our cost is much lower than most competitors.
What advice would you give to new online students?
If I’m being completely honest, an online college degree is not for every personality type. Online students need to have strong self-motivation and focus to be successful. So do an internal assessment and ask yourself: is this really right for me?
The second piece of advice that I would give is about being strategic. I have seen that the most successful students are the ones that plan ahead and create a schedule for themselves. I think it’s best if you can set aside time each day or even every other day to work a bit at a time. Use that scheduled time to complete the assigned reading, connect with a professor, or study – whatever is needed so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Why do you feel online education is important?
There are many people in stages of life where education has been put on the back burner. It may be a job, a growing family, or financial changes that make college feel impractical. But Grace College’s Online programs have been designed for busy people. We help people further their education by getting an online college degree regardless of where they are at in life.
What is something you’ve learned in this role?
Since graduating from Grace this May, I know that I have grown in deepening my compassion. In the admissions world, people often think of students as nothing but a number. But at Grace, we get to know them as a person. That focus on the individual has been so important to me. I care about meeting their needs, helping them continue their education, and encouraging them as they get started on a significant journey.
Interested in pursuing an online college degree? Start your journey with Grace College Online today!