Yesterday was my weekly at-home application reading day. Reviewing applications is both engaging and exhausting. It’s not that the work is difficult exactly, but it does require close attention and consistent focus throughout the day. My Admissions pals and I have all found our preferred reading arrangements — whatever it takes to keep us moving through a virtual pile of applications. I nearly always read in my kitchen, and yesterday was no exception. Here’s how my day went.
7:30 — The house is mine. I already have Slate opened up and waiting for me. There’s a mishmash of applications in my queue (some put there by student readers, one MATA application (my second) that Laurie passed to me, some PhD applications that I need to check over for the basics), so I decide to start by reading everything in my queue before I grab more applications. I’m fueled by a nice cup of tea. A friend brought us tea from Sri Lanka and I’m enjoying drinking it from my new favorite tea mug that we picked up in London last month.
8:30 — I need a quick bit of movement, so I sprint upstairs to shift some clothes from the washer to the dryer. Then back to work. I’ve been sitting with my legs up and my computer propped on my lap desk (bought specifically for this purpose).
9:45 — I’m making pretty good progress, but I need to move. Time to put the computer on the kitchen table. I’ve been selecting the application I read by opening my queue, closing my eyes, swirling my mouse over the list, and clicking a name. Ultimately, it’s not too different from working through the list alphabetically, but it’s a more entertaining method.
11:00 — I’m steadily whittling down the queue but I need to get up and move again. I put the kettle on, race upstairs to move the last of the washing to the dryer, sprint back down to make a pot of coffee while also eating a banana to refuel. I chose a thematic mug to boost my focus. Back to the queue.
12:23 — My queue is empty, and it’s time for lunch! I’ve read the 20 files I started with, made these notes on the blog, answered a few emails. Not a terrible pace, but not great either. Maybe lunch will invigorate me. Lentils and greens — not too photogenic, so I’ll spare you.
12:48 — Back to work. Loaded up my queue and ready to go. I also brewed a little more tea. The coffee was decaf, so there’s no danger that I’ll become overly perky as I read your applications!
2:38 — I motored through a batch of applications, but then I hit a wall. To reset, I washed all those dishes I had used earlier and changed venues — moved from the kitchen table to the counter. I often think it would be nice to read in a coffee shop or in our local library, but taking time to “commute” steals from reading.
4:38 — Exactly two hours since I made my last note. I’ve read about as much as I’m going to get to today, and I’ve had a nice “journey” through your stories. In just these few hours, I’ve read about applicants with roots or experience in South Sudan, Japan, Korea, India, Somalia, Israel, Kuwait, Indonesia, and many locations in the U.S. My applicants have been focused on education, security, humanitarian studies, the environment, negotiations, and just about every topic Fletcher offers. In other words, a typical reading day! And that’s why the work is energizing. At the same time as I’m tired of staring at my screen, I’m excited to connect with all these folks who could be walking in the Hall of Flags in September!