Our full schedule of student-led interviews starts on Monday.  I’m excited that we have a battalion of volunteers and they will be BUSY!  Nearly all appointments on Mondays and Fridays are already taken through mid-October, and the middles of the weeks are filling in, too.  (Don’t wait too long to contact us to arrange your appointment, if you plan to interview!)

Which leads me to a story.

For a couple of years, before the Admissions Office moved into its current location, I shared space with another Fletcher staffer.  She was in the office first, and in addition to the usual supplies, computer equipment, etc., the office was equipped with a life-sized “stand-up cutout” of Elvis Presley.  You know what I mean — the kind of big photo you could stand near, and if your friend took a picture it would look like you and Elvis had been chillin’ together.  If, you know, he were still on this Earth.

This office space was very long and narrow, so when I conducted admissions interviews, I used to sit in my desk chair with the windows and Elvis behind me, and the interviewee facing the windows (and Elvis) with his/her back to the door.  For about a year, I never thought about Elvis and none of the applicants I interviewed ever mentioned him.  Until one day, when one bold interviewee asked me why the King was hanging out in Admissions.  Which made me think how strange it was that no one else had ever asked about Elvis.

Which led me to look into a psychology study that I had previously heard about.  The topic of the study was “selective attention.”  You can read about the study, or watch the video that was used in it.  But the upshot is that when people are focused on a task, it’s easy for them to fail to notice something that could distract them from the task.  Even a gorilla.  Or Elvis.

And that, in turn, helped me understand what admissions interviews can be like for our applicants.  We know that interviewees are often nervous, stressed, or hyper-focused.  So our interviewers, both staff and students, try to create a relaxed atmosphere that won’t heighten applicants’ anxiety.  We think we’re doing a pretty good job.  If only we had Elvis around to tell us if we’re succeeding!


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