As a college student, Doug Zeltinger worked for the Office of Admissions at NDSU, giving tours and answering questions from incoming students. After graduating, he never imagined he’d have a career there.
But 17 years later he continues to guide incoming students and their families through the application, housing and scholarship processes as the university’s admissions counselor. Helping individuals find their way has not only become a rewarding part of life for him at work, but at home too. Doug and his wife, Suzanne have five kids between the ages of 3 and 12, providing plenty of opportunities to do just that.
“My father passed away when I was 20 years old. He was only 52 years old. I just simply soak it all in and enjoy each child, their personalities and quirks,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like they are growing up so fast and the next moment you see them as they were when they were in their crib or when you dropped them off on the first day of kindergarten and you know that they will always be your child. Just in a bigger frame.”
Working with students at NDSU every day and helping them through what is an exciting but also possibly scary time in their life also takes on that same perspective. Doug recalls that starting college was his first real adult decision that was exciting, but also scary with the uncertainty and unknowns that came with leaving home. It comes full circle.
Read on to learn more about this rad dad.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as an admissions counselor?
The importance of education and access to education, whether it’s high school, two-year, public or private; all of it allows us to find something we are good at or excel in and make a living from. We’ve all got a gift we’ve been given; we just need to find it and capitalize on it. Sometimes we figure it out in middle school, for others, it’s maybe in their late 20s or early 30s. Education allows us to turn that into a career.
And the most important thing you’ve learned as a parent?
You have to treat each child differently. Some react to things differently and are motivated by different things and that is something I am still working on. Raising kids is not really a one-size-fits-all, but you try the best you can.
What’s the most challenging part of your role at NDSU?
Working closely with scholarships is fun, but there are only so many funds to go around and sometimes the margin between a student getting and not getting a scholarship can be razor thin. I wish there was no limit to the funds, because you know the impact a scholarship can have on a student and her or his family.
How do you help your kids prepare for their future careers and discover where their interests are?
I think it’s good for kids to try different things and learn how to fail. That is how we grow and learn. I try to instill a work ethic in them. You won’t always be the best at everything you attempt but give it all of your effort and energy, learn and grow from it and have fun! We are pretty blessed as a family and have very little to complain about, so enjoy and have fun and do it with a smile.
Is there anything you do in your role as an admissions counselor that you also find helpful when it comes to parenting and visa versa?
I have tried to teach my kids to be more proactive rather than reactive. Try to deal and address a problem as early as you can. Don’t let it drag out and dealing with it is usually not as big of a deal as you think it’s going to be. Same thing with students; try to deal with things before it becomes an issue.
How did you and your wife meet?
We actually went to the same high school, but we really didn’t know each other. I didn’t meet her until winter break of my sophomore year in college when I went back to the Twin Cities and was hanging out with high school friends who were attending school there. I was immediately attracted to how wonderful she was as a person; kind-hearted, intelligent, and driven and genuinely one of the nicest people I had ever met. It was an added bonus that she also happened to be the prettiest gal I had ever met as well!
How do you all enjoy spending your time together?
For a family of seven we surprisingly get to do a lot of stuff together. We enjoy family movie nights, board games, musicals, concerts and both playing and watching sports. Watching our kids participate in whatever makes them happy makes us as parents happy.
What quote do you live by?
“The grass might be greener on the other side, but you gotta mow that grass too!”
I think people are always looking for the next big thing or what they have now is never good enough. Stuff might look better than what you have in front of you, but there are issues and headaches that come along with that too. Be happy with what you have.