Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Aftermath and the Prelude

Well, here it is a month since my last posting (this is harder to maintain than I thought!) and so much has happened.  All our decisions - and those from most other schools - are out and now students and families are weighing their options, pouring over those financial aid awards, and in many cases dealing with the disappointment of the decision received. 

Colleges, too, are dealing with the Aftermath.  Here at USD, as I have mentioned before, we had over 12,100 applications and we read each and every one very carefully.  My staff and I reviewed transcripts and read essays, poured over letters of recommendations, and ultimately, made a lot of very hard decisions.  We know - and we know this going into the process - that we will disappoint a lot of people, but we also know that for the vast majority of students, things will work out.  My colleague at the University of Southern California, Jerry Lucido, wrote a wonderful article talking about dealing with the rejection.  It appeared in the Washington Post column, The Answer Sheet -

Of course, the Aftermath applies to students who did get in, but may not have received a merit scholarship, or feel they deserve a higher one.  These, too, are difficult decisions, as most schools - USD included - don't have enough resources to adequately recognize everyone we would like.  We get letters everyday asking us to "take another look", and urging us to consider all sorts of factors.  Believe me when I say, we did.  Sometimes, there is new information that can really be helpful, but most of the time we are looking once again at a student's application that we have looked at several times before.  Merit decisions often come down to very small nuances in an overall academic record.  We realize the difficult financial situation families are in and wish we could do more but unfortunately, the reality is we will not likely be able to do much.  We get so many of these letters, in fact, that we are getting ready to post some guidelines on our web site to help manage the expectations of families regarding appeals. 

The Aftermath is tough on an admissions staff.  In many cases we have been working with families for over a year, having met them at a college fair when the student was a junior.  We may have met you on campus, or corresponded with you over a period of time.  There is a lot of angst on our side of the desk too.

But the Aftermath slowly turns into the Prelude, and once the shock and disappointment subside, we all look with anticipation toward May 1.  We just held our big campus event for admitted students, College Visiting Day, and were so excited and overwhelmed with our turnout!  Thank you to those who attended - over 800 of you!  Many of you have been attending similar events at other colleges, taking those tours, and looking at the schools a little differently than you did before.  I know you are all weighing your options, trying to read your teenagers mind (at least I am!), hoping that it will all turn out well (which it almost always does). 

The Prelude - this time between decisions and May 1 - for admissions officers is filled more with anxiety than anything.  Questions such as, Did we admit enough or too many?, Will we end up over our goal or will we be going to the wait list? What about our quality, diversity, and other measures the campus expects will be represented in the class?   I try to keep a low profile around campus these last couple of weeks, mostly to avoid the ever-present question - So how are the numbers?   The answer for now is - we just don't know yet. 

We will soon, and over the next three weeks we will continue to communicate with students and parents, host families on campus visits, review those appeals and, believe it or not, start preparing for the high school juniors starting their college search.  I pay particular attention to our campus mail service, waiting everyday for the business reply envelopes to come in, signifying deposit commitments.  Perhaps this is where the process comes full cycle - not long ago you and your son or daughter were waiting anxiously for the mail to bring the big envelope or small.  Now, Directors everywhere are waiting for our mail and hoping it will bring the right kind of news.

I'll have one more post before May 1 and I will keep you posted on two fronts - how we are doing at USD and how my son's decision is coming along.  I think we have a final choice, at least we did a few days ago, but I'll let you know.  In the meantime, good luck and thanks for reading!


No comments: