Presenter Perspective: Edward "Eddie" Pickett III


 Edward "Eddie" Pickett III, is the dean and college counselor at the Polytechnic School (CA). Prior to Polytechnic, he was the director of diversity recruitment at Tufts University (MA). Eddie earned a BA in media studies and studio art from Pitzer College (CA) and a MA in higher education administration from Boston College (MA). Eddie brings his extensive knowledge of college admission to his presentations at both the NACAC National Conference and Guiding the Way to Inclusion. 



1. Past Presentations at the NACAC National Conference?
2017- Tips and Trip-Ups: The Early Years of Middle Management

2. Best memory from presenting in the past.
Hearing the valuable information that your friends and peers have to share with our colleagues across the country. My three co-presenters and I talk multiple times a year in private, but it was great to share the conversations that we have in a public setting. We lean on each other for support and guidance and having the opportunity to influence other colleagues in the field is priceless.

3. How does your personal and professional experience help you connect with the attendees of your session?
My friends consider me a very calm person. The field of highly selective admissions can be overwhelming for some, and daunting for others, so while I was on the college side I always tried not to feed the frenzy. Now that I’m in my first year on the high school side, I try to bring that calm presence to the kids since there are many moments of stress about this process. My calm persona comes from my background as first-gen college student, and black man that grew up in Oakland and Berkeley, California, who had to navigate multiple selective institutions that weren’t always welcoming for a person from my background. In presenting, I try to dig from the well of knowledge that I’ve gained from the great conversations with my peers at the conferences over the years and present real life advice and material that I think is timely.

4. How has presenting at conferences contributed to your personal/professional success?
I’ve presented at Guiding the Way to Inclusion (GWI) multiple times and Boston was my first NACAC presentation. I definitely don’t meet as many people in our field without putting myself out there and being vulnerable to present information. Yes, vulnerable. It takes some courage to stand in front of your peers and present information that they may or may not have been seen before. The unexpected, but rewarding part of presenting are the conversations after and on the road when you have a great follow up conversation.

5. How do you/have you gone about building a presentation for the National Conference?
Just like a college essay, it’s very hard to be the most unique, but it is totally doable to present timely information for a group of people through a fresh perspective. Most people don’t want to present stale information, so I try to think “what answers would I want in that moment of my career?” We thought about all the questions that we had in the early years of the specific job and went about answering those questions for our presentation. Without any frame of reference, it’s easy to miss simple and complex details, so we focused on our mistakes and how to correct them.

a. Where do the conversations begin?
The conversations can begin anywhere. Mine have started at smaller conferences, seeing the same admissions reps on the road during travel season, and repeat visits to high schools in which we created a rapport with each other.

b. How do you find presenters across the country?
I always enjoyed when counselors would ask earnest questions trying to get the essence of my institution, not just “how do I get this kid in” type of question. Or when other admissions officers can have those “real talk” moments about their office and you get to brainstorm possible solutions. Personally, I looked for the people who would be eloquently blunt, had the ability to throw some humor into the conversation, and people that I can trust that will not stress out the next person.

6. Advice you have for prospective presenters?
Put yourself out there. From GWI to the NACAC Conference presentations, nothing but good has come from trying these opportunities. Find people that you can easily bounce ideas with, or ask people that you have a good connection with to help you find these people. You probably wouldn’t be surprised by the connections that your associates and friends have. As my dad said growing up multiple times, “A closed mouth, doesn’t get fed.”

7. Sessions/topics you’d like to see in Salt Lake City.

  • Advising Across the levels: with CBO’s, college counselors, and admissions officers who are pre-major advisors
  • Relationship between Head of School/Head of High School and Director of college Counseling Director (with both on the panel)- to talk about the internal and external messaging of the counseling office
  • Relationship between President/Provost and VP/Dean of Admissions (with two sets on the panel)- to talk about assigning priorities and the give and take
  • In general, more presentations that have both public and private school colleagues on the same stage.