During the coming year, I’ll be viewing the admissions biz through the lens of my daughter Kayla’s own college-application process. And this summer, we kick things off with several short road trips. Up to now, the process has consisted of Kayla taking her standardized exams (seemingly endlessly this past spring) and developing a list of colleges that could be of interest. Now she needs to refine her list by checking out a few options, and that’s where I step in.
Off we drove last week, armed with a bag of audiobooks and plenty of music for our listening entertainment. We visited only three schools, but still covered hundreds of miles. Happily (given the time and effort), at the end of the trip, Kayla had developed a sense of qualities and characteristics she values in a school.
As I did a while back with my son’s year-long college search, I plan to take advantage of the tours, info sessions, and other activities to consider how Fletcher does things. For example, one of the colleges put Kayla in touch with five students, but no permanent staff member, while the other two colleges had a staff member conduct the info session. As might be expected, the student-led session was filled with love for these selected admissions interns’ future alma mater. The staff-led sessions, by contrast, were filled with statistics. Hmmmm. What are my info sessions like? Do I overwhelm the attendees with “useful” details? Most of Fletcher’s on-site info sessions are led by students, with a visit from a staff member. Maybe that’s the right combination — love and statistics together.
At one of the sessions, I laughed along when the staff member reinforced the importance of careful editing of the application essay. I agreed completely that professors (and, in Fletcher’s case, students) who review applications are much less tolerant than Admissions staff members when an applicant refers to the wrong school. For me, it’s an annoyance, but professors have sometimes called it a deal-breaker. (Do take this as a warning, blog readers. Whether you’re applying for grad school or a job, no one likes reading that the other guys are your favorites, even if you’ve also accidentally told the other guys that Fletcher is your favorite.)
Kayla and I will continue with our visits this summer, but my professional development opportunity won’t stop there. Between the application itself and the notification and enrollment processes, there will be plenty for me to learn from. Even more helpful is the chance to connect to the process from an applicant’s perspective. I’ll be blogging about all I discover throughout the year.
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