Suddenly, I’m not short of topic ideas. Today, my inspiration “rises” from the day’s application reading, but you’ll “knead” to work with me. (Sorry…those are puns – not a good choice for a multicultural readership.)

I started my day with a plan in place for today’s reading, including the breaks I’d take. First I ushered the rest of the family out of the house (“see you later, basketball tonight, take a coat, blah, blah”). Then I listened to the silence.

And then I sat down with my pile of files.

Through the day, I took several breaks to prepare and bake some bread. It’s a special braided loaf that I can buy locally, but my own is, well, better than what I can buy, and it’s worth the effort. And that’s where the analogy comes in: the admissions process is like baking bread. Here come the details of the analogy, however labored it may be:

First we mix the dough (assemble the applications). This will be the raw material for the finished loaves, or the admitted class.

Then we let the dough rise (and read the applications).

Then we knead and shape the loaves. In the admissions context, we consider what type of class we can create, given the raw materials that have gone into it. We’ll do some comparing of applications that share similarities, and try to find the best of each group. Of course, the fact that we have admitted one student from Antarctica University doesn’t mean that we won’t admit a second – so we’re really mixing and remixing, comparing and re-comparing, with an eye to a whole lot of different factors.

And, finally, we’ll bake. I’m having trouble with my own analogy here, but I think the admissions equivalent would be making decisions final and sending decision letters.

I realize it’s a weak analogy, but I do like the metaphor of kneading bread and kneading the class. It’s only through that process of working and reworking that we can ensure equity, regardless of which committee members have read an application. Particularly given that we have no firm cut-offs (except for English language ability), we’re always weighing undergrad record, against international experience, against professional experience, against goals and focus, against many other special characteristics. The final kneading falls in large part to Laurie, who faces the yearly challenge of reviewing each application. She has our notes to work with, and there’s a database to rely on, but we still often find her sitting on the floor as she tries to figure out how a certain application compares to a group of others.

And now, I have a blog entry, a completed pile of files, and three small loaves of bread. Not a bad day’s work!

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