The Four Seasons of Admissions

One of the reasons I always loved working as a college admissions officer is the cyclical nature of the business.  Its sequence of events is so dependable that I began to think of admissions as having four distinct seasons, very much like Nature’s own. These four seasons are called Recruitment, Selection, Yield and Assessment.   They each have different goals and timing, and they require different behaviors and skills from admissions officers.

It was a relief to know that as surely as night follows day, the rigors of recruitment travel would soon be replaced with the pleasures of reading applications of teenagers eager to be admitted.  When I was bleary eyed after reading the Nth application in lonely solitude, it was time to come together as a staff to make decisions about whom to admit.   Weeks of decision making in marathon sessions behind closed doors with good colleagues and way too much sugar and caffeine birthed a class as well as an esprit d’corps for having survived it.  The day the decisions were sent was always so bittersweet, filled with excited thoughts of kids we loved whose applications we championed, coupled with real sadness for passing by so many for whom there was no space.  That day would quickly morph into preparation for that final outreach to the admits in a campaign to win their hearts, minds and an acceptance of our offer.  Finally, after the big push was over, it was time to review our goals as an office, to learn what had worked and what had been ineffective and to begin planning for the next class.  After some desperately needed R & R, it was time to begin the cycle all over again.

Cycles are great for such intense jobs as admissions.   They relieve the pressure and help reset the mind.  The memory of spring makes the late winter bearable.   😉

In the coming weeks I’ll describe these four seasons of admissions in detail so that you can better understand the world of the college admissions officer.  I’ll offer advice about how and when to approach admissions staff and help you understand what to expect from those encounters based on the season.   As with all things in life, timing is everything.  For example, just as you wouldn’t think of calling a neighbor at midnight to chat about mundane neighborhood business, you shouldn’t contact an admissions officer during reading season to ask general questions about their school.  A question that might be interesting during Recruitment season can be viewed as an annoying waste of time during Selection when their energies are directed to a different task.  Having an awareness of this sensitivity will make you a more effective advocate for your child during the process.

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