One of the tasks that has fallen to me over the last few years is to lead the way in preparing selected students to be valuable members of the Committee on Admissions.  The Committee is made up of professors, Admissions staff, and a group of students large enough to manage however many applications we expect to see.

The process starts when we hire the students, having lured them with an email that makes the job sound like an insurmountable mountain of work.  (Only the rugged need apply.)  Then two of us conduct interviews (Kristen and Peter each joined me this year), and we put together a group that reflects, as well as possible, the scope of applicants that we’ll see:  men/women, U.S./international, private sector/public and nonprofit sectors, etc., etc.  Plus, they need to have the ability to present an argument, even if they’re on the opposite side of the discussion from one of their professors.  To be honest, it also helps if they understand that they shouldn’t cling tenaciously to a lost cause.

Once the students have been selected, we offer about an hour of training — completely inadequate, so we construct a big safety net around them.  They work with us in a mentor-type arrangement, each of the staffers reading the files previously reviewed by our mentees, so that we can learn their style (and tweak it as necessary).  And then there’s the Committee discussion process for ironing out any last wrinkles.

We keep our expectations reasonable for the Early Notification process.  Not only are the students heading into exams, but the Admissions work is new to them.  An application that takes 30 minutes to read now would, by February, take half that amount of time.  So we try to go easy on the readers and give them a chance to really learn the ropes.

The Early Notification deadline was Sunday, but we had a small group of files ready last Thursday afternoon.  Minutes after I emailed the crew that they could pick up files, in they marched!  Some of the files were back again an hour later.  Fabulous!!

I’m super psyched about this year’s Committee, and I love this part of the process.  Current students know the community and are in a perfect place to reflect whether Fletcher seems like a good match for each applicant.  The Admissions Staff is there to provide the broad context, and the professors represent the faculty view.

I have five files from my mentees here, and I’m going to read them now.  We’ll be meeting on Thursday to discuss their early work.  The first full Committee meeting takes place in December.  I can’t wait!


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