Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis The Season...

Now that Thanksgiving is past and many are focused on the holiday season ahead, college admission offices are gearing up for a very different holiday experience, one that will last well into the new year.  It's the application reading season and it is a process that affects millions of young people across the country (and the world).  It also has a huge impact on college administrators, high school counselors, parents and many others associated with the college selection process.  The annual ritual can be largely misunderstood, even by those who are close to the process, and while I have no illusions about making sense of it all, I hope this written exchange helps answer at least some questions about how it all works. 

When I entered the admissions profession 23 years ago, I could never have imagined the concept of blogging. Even within the last two or three years, as I began reading blogs on ESPN.com and Baseball America.com, it never occurred to me that I might soon be writing one myself. But here I am, entering this new age of communications and with the help of my staff in the Admissions office, blogging.

My hope is that I can communicate with parents, counselors, students and others who are in the midst of this experience and perhaps shed some light on what is often a process cloaked in mystery.  The reality is that the process - at least at most private colleges and universities - is not that mysterious at all.  It is complicated by the fact that many schools do things differently and most are not very forthcoming about what they actually do.  The work done by admission offices across the country is hard work and done by very dedicated, caring individuals who are trying to balance their own sense of fairness with the realities of the institutions they work for.  It is complicated, tedious, stressful and often emotional. 

Over the next six months I hope to engage folks in a conversation about selecting a college - applying, being admitted or denied, and finally choosing.  In addition to coming at this wearing my professional admissions hat, I am also experiencing this as a parent of a high school senior (it's much easier as a Director of Admissions).  I have many topics in mind - testing, how applications are processed and readied for reading, the deliberations, identifying institutional priorities, paying for college - I also hope to talk a lot about finding the right fit and not worrying about all the wrong reasons to choose a college.  I also want to respond to questions and address concerns/topics that you might have as well.

If you're a parent and have never followed a blog before (join the club!), just check back every week and see where the conversation takes us.  Feel free to post a comment or email me with your questions.  Together we can make our way through file review season and come out the other side with a better understanding of what happened.  My holiday wish, as always this time of year, is that all our students find a good fit.

Next week, I'll take you inside our admissions processing area and let you know what happens when students hit that "submit" button.

Until then, enjoy the season.


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