What’s going on behind the closed doors at Admissions offices?

For high school seniors the busy season came before application deadlines:  the weeks leading up to the Early deadlines (October through November for most colleges) and the weeks leading up to Regular admissions deadlines (December through January).

Those deadlines are followed by a long, slow, waiting season filled with questions: Which schools will accept me? Was that essay clever or stupid? What if I don’t get in anywhere? Was my safety choice safe enough?

And:  What the heck is taking so long?

Here’s a look at the admissions office busy season and what’s going on behind closed doors.

In some cases, the next application fills them with dread. Here are a couple of tweets from Daniel Creasy, Admissions officer at Johns Hopkins University. [Via @Admissiondaniel]

college admissions

college admissions

Salve Regina

In another case, the essays are incredibly moving. Brian Shanley, a Salve Regina admissions officer writes, Seniors’ college essays touch the heart. [Hat-tip to CollegeExplorations.com]

Devotion and grace: The Common Application requests that students list their activities — a resume of sorts. Typically “band,” “theater” or “volleyball” appear in the space provided. Not always, though. One young man wrote, “Staying home to care for my terminally ill father.” That’s what he did after school. I emailed him, wishing him well during those tough times.

Butler University

Here are a couple of articles on how Butler University admissions staff goes through their applications, in Butler gives rare look into admissions decisions. The second part of the story is here. [Hat-tip to @Scorebusters.]

“In his junior year, F, F, D, D, D,” said Chris Potts, associate director of admissions, explaining an application to the review committee. “No explanation anywhere, nothing — straight As, and then just bites it junior year.”

A bad semester in which a student struggles doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the line for that applicant. The admissions staff wants to know why it happened.

“His dad dropped dead. It’s him and his mother, and he was suddenly left without a father and having to support his mother,” Scheuermann said. “That was not in the application anywhere.”

Back to that earlier question: What the heck is taking so long? I just tracked down this post from last year because I remembered the stacks of paper. See From the processing side, by @UVaDeanJ on the Notes From Peabody UVa Admission blog. Click on the link to catch a glimpse of the paper trail.

University of Virginia

There are people who seem to think online applications, with their confirmations and status pages aren’t trustworthy, so they send paper copies of everything that’s been submitted online.  There is no reason to do this.  This slows down the processing of credentials.  What’s more, it negates our efforts to green the process a bit.  When we started working on implementing our imaging system in 2007, I sometimes wondered about how much paper (and postage) would be eliminated if every university in the state went paperless along with us.  Now, I realize that there will always be paper.  There will always be plenty of paper.  

College of William and Mary

Finally, here’s an opportunity to listen in on the College of William & Mary‘s admissions committee. See their blog, Admit It!, for a series of posts titled, “Overheard in Committee.” I’ve linked to the first one.

Overheard in Committee yesterday: I can forgive a C in BC Calc in 11th.

Still feeling impatient? Here’s a little Charlie Rich to help bide your time…

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Filed under Getting In

3 responses to “What’s going on behind the closed doors at Admissions offices?

  1. Very cool. I really like how this article integrates Twitter feeds. Twitter reminds us that admissions officers are human beings. I have written about this on my website–that it helps to remember who the folks are reading applications. http://bit.ly/qdvZoK

    • Thanks for the comment, John. I, too, appreciate the information admissions officers share via their blogs and tweets. It helps us to remember 1) most of them are working crazy schedules to try to give each applicant a fair read, 2) it only makes sense for us to pay close attention to their needs, requests and deadlines, and 3) they can get as excited about an excellent application/essay as the parent and student.

  2. Pingback: How’s the mood in your house, HS seniors and families? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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