Thursday, September 2, 2010

Overlapping Cycles: The End and the Beginning

For me, this is the most exciting time in admissions.  Here at USD, classes began yesterday and all the new students have arrived and we get to actually see the faces behind all those numbers and statistics we've been looking at for months and months.  We know many of them - and their families - through our efforts over the past year or more and to see them on campus happy, excited and ready to go is a very rewarding feeling. 

Our job in admissions, of course, is to bring in a new class every year.  At USD, that means about 1140 new freshman and about 450 new transfer students this year.  We are always proud of the young men and women we enroll, and this year's class is no exception.  They are among the brightest class we have ever enrolled (as measured by SAT and GPA), the most ethnically diverse group in our history, and come from 42 states, 3 U.S. Territories and 22 countries.  These students were selected from the largest applicant pool we have ever had - over 12,100 students applied for freshman admission this year.  All in all, they are a wonderful group and our campus is excited to welcome them and help them achieve all of their goals and dreams.

All of our returning students are back, too, and it is equally rewarding to see them getting ready to resume their journey on campus.  Many of them are getting ready to study abroad, take on an internship, declare their major, partner with a faculty member on a research project, or assume a leadership role in one of our campus organizations.  They are taking full advantage of the opportunities that we talked about as they were looking at colleges, and to know that my staff and I played some small role in that is, well, priceless as the commercial says.

Along with those feelings of satisfaction and closure associated with our new and returning students is the excitement of starting the process all over again.  While the rest of the campus is busy helping the new students settle in, the admission staff and I have been preparing to recruit the entering class of 2011.  We have met with hundreds of rising seniors and their families all summer, planned our fall travel schedules and are ready to start visiting high schools and attending college fairs all across the country.  We will start mailing information to your homes and it won't be long until we actually start reading applications!  All of these activities, including this blog, are intended to build a relationship with each of you as you move through this journey of exploration and decision.

It is the overlapping of these cycles - one ending and one beginning - that is one of the main reasons I love my job so much.

Building relationships is at the core of what we do in admissions, and we want that relationship to be an interactive, engaging, and open one - regardless of where you or your son or daughter ends up.  Through this blog, and the many interactions you will have with me and my staff, I hope we will be able to clarify some of the myths, misperceptions, and just plain wrong information that surround this process.  Over the next nine months I will be posting thoughts every two or three weeks and addressing many of the most common sources of anxiety you are facing:  how to select an appropriate set of schools, how to prepare the application, what happens once you submit the application and how decisions are made, paying for college and the process of scholarship and need-based aid, and ultimately, how to make that final decision.  Each posting I hope to leave you with at least one takeaway that I think will help you and your family as you move toward that magical day of May 1 - the National Candidate Reply Date - when the decision gets made.

I will be writing from two perspectives - my role as Director of Admissions at USD and with my 25 years of experience at three different institutions and also as a dad who in 11 days (not that I'm counting) will bring his oldest son to college for the first time.  Having just gone through this process and now faced with the reality of the whole thing, I can appreciate what you are all going through and will experience over the next several months.  While primarily intended for parents, I hope this will be helpful to students and to high school counselors alike and I welcome your comments and questions.

So, as we start this new cycle together, and as I bring to a close my 25th admissions cycle I leave you with my first piece of advice, shaped more by my recent experience as a parent at the end of his family's own journey:

As stressful as things may seem now, things will all work out well in the end.  There is not just one good match out there for everyone, but many good matches.  Be open to the possibilities. 

The cycle is beginning anew.  Enjoy the ride!


No comments: