Decision Day Has Arrived – Live Blogging All Day

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WE ARE DONE! Well, sort of…

The arduous five month application review process is complete and as of this morning (Wednesday, March 28) the 14,000+ decision notifications have been delivered to the Baltimore postal center. The e-mail decisions will start going out at 5:00 PM EDT — but please know it could take up to five hours for all the e-mails to be sent. Please refer to my March 12 entry for further information on how we release decisions. [We will not release decisions over the phone!]

As I did last year, I wanted to provide you all a look into the last 48 hours. But there is a new twist — I will be updating the blog throughout the day (live blogging?) with additions to the time line and pictures. So check back regularly throughout the day and next few days, with a ton of information about the release of decisions.

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Tuesday, March 27

12:15 PM – Director of Admissions John Latting emerges from his office and declares that the class is sealed and all the letters are signed and ready to be stuffed. A loud ovation is heard throughout Garland Hall.

12:17 PM - After two minutes of celebrating, the sorting, stuffing, and sealing begins. Financial Aid takes over the basement file room to add their award packages, as the Operations team begins to go through one last roster check confirming final decisions.

5:00 PM - Chinese food arrives. The staff digs in.

5:01 PM – The beverages arrive. Staff washes down the food.

5:03 PM - The pizza arrives. The students volunteers celebrate.

5:03:30 PM – The pizza gone. The students are stuffed.

5:30 PM – The Operations team, counseling staff members, and a cadre of current student volunteers heads downstairs to stuff and seal all the admits packets.

6:20 PM - The affixing of postage commences.

7:32 PM – We are done. In record time! A process that took nearly 5 hours last year, took only two. Wow. The student volunteers, as always, were amazing.

8:02 PM – Uh oh. We need to sort some of the international mailings. Can you say finding a needle in a haystack.

8:31 PM – Actually it was not that difficult. Team work really does work.

9:05 PM – Admissions_Daniel heads home. Colleagues follow hoping for the first good night sleep in weeks.

10:54 PM – Just before heading to bed, Admissions_Daniel posts an update to the Hopkins Insider blog with a very auspicious final picture.

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Stay tuned … more updates to follow … including the procession of mail bins and our visits to the postal centers …

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I’m back and ready to take you through the tales of today – D-Day…

Wednesday, March 28

7:15 AM – Arrive to the office feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Hmmm … what is this strange sensation. Oh, I am relaxed!!!

~8:30 AM – The rest of the staff trickles in and we scan over all the bins of mail, excited about what lies ahead. Now we all wait for the arrival of Director Latting and the go-ahead to move the bins out.

9:45 AM - The procession begins. It takes four huge mail carts, a hand truck, and two trips to move all the bins to the waiting four SUVs. (Sorry Al Gore, no hybrid cars used to deliver our mail.)

9:48 AM – The loading of the cars begins. Many hands make quick work.

10:15 AM - The four SUVs driven by John, Jameel, Jeremiah and I depart for I-83. Three of the SUVs go south towards the Baltimore Postal Center, and one goes north to the Johns Hopkins postal center in Mount Washington.

11:00 AM – Less than 45 minutes later, the last admit packet and the last deny and wait list letters are handed over. Now the Class of 2011 is officially official – no more changes can be made.

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Even more updates … and a few more photos to follow…

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The live blogging continues … hope you all are enjoying the tales as you await the release of the e-mails. Back to the time line.

12:00 PM – PARTY TIME!!! Yes, the Admissions and Financial Aid teams joined for a bit of a celebration and a nice catered lunch. You can clearly see the stressed had washed away from us all, and we got to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. Good food can always do that.

12:20 PM - Congratulations! Dean Conley and Director Latting extended their heartfelt thanks to every staff member. And then allowed us to leave early …. woooooo hoooooo.

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One last update …

5:00 PM – The sending of the e-mails commences. This process will take some time.

5:01:30 PM - The questions have already begun. In response, here are some answers…

  • Why didn’t I get an email?: If an applicant does not receive an email it is because either there was no email provided with the application, the email provided no longer works, there is a spam filter blocking the message, or some error occurred causing a bounceback. We do not re-send emails, so in such situations the student must wait for the mail to arrive. We will not release decisions over the phone until Monday, April 2 and then only to the applicant, a parent or guardian, or the applicant’s high school guidance counselor. Decisions will only be released over the phone if the identity of the caller can be reasonably assured.
  • I applied to the BME program, did I get in?: Decisions about acceptance into the Biomedical Engineering (BME) major are departmental decisions and therefore we do not release such information through email or over the phone. All applicants who applied to the BME program will learn of their decision when they receive their acceptance package. Further details can be found by clicking here.
  • Did I receive a scholarships?: Scholarship award notifications are included in the acceptance package of those students awarded one of our merit awards. We do not release these decisions through email or over the phone.
  • I submitted an application for the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship; did I get it?: Once again these notifications are only released through the postal mail, not through email or over the phone.
  • What is my Financial Aid package?: Financial Aid awards for those who completed an application will be included in the acceptance packet. You can also check your award by logging into your ISIS account. If you have any questions or need access to ISIS, please contact the Office of Student Financial Services at fin_aid@jhu.edu or 410-516-8028.

We know there will be many, many, many more questions and we will have answers. Just not right at this moment.

For me the day is coming to an end. And I have two things to look forward to: LOST and my BED!!!Lost Bed_2

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More posts will follow throughout the week, so stay tuned!

Cheers.

So Close…

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I promise, we are almost there …

… while you wait enjoy these pictures from the first truly amazing spring day of the year.

111b111c111d111a *                  Hmmm??? Something is missing from that last picture …

The End is Near…

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The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. It is just about 6:00am EDT on Tuesday, March 27 and I am waking up from a night of restless sleep and a variety of psychotics dreams and creepy nightmares. My dedication to the process though was really tested last night when I decided to skip my commitment to Monday night television (Prison Break, 24, the Riches, and the Black Donnellys) and work through the evening instead. No worries, my trusty 2 TiVos caught all my show, and once letters are mailed I will have a stock-pile of episodes to catch up on.

Speaking of letters, we are getting very close. I know you applicants are getting very anxious and the best I can tell you is that we are working as fast as we can. Once it is officially determined when the letters will hit the mail and the emails will be sent, I promise to let you all know. If I were a betting man (which I am no longer because of this year of March Madness), I’d be putting my money down on Wednesday or Thursday — but that is no guarantee.

Before I share a few more photos, if you haven’t read it yet — go back to my March 12th entry where I answer all the questions you have about how decisions will be released — click here for the “What Time Is It” entry.

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Photo Captions: (top row-left to right, then down to 2nd row left to right, etc.)

  • * “The Signature Process” – Our Director of Admissions, John Latting, will sign all the admit letters. Yes, his hand hurts at the end!!!
  • * “The last decisions” – Mark, John, and Shannon work in the file room on those last critical final decisions.
  • * “Waiting” – The admit packets just wait for the signed letters and the call that the class is complete and it is time to stuff and seal and send.
  • * “Good luck” – Lilly just wanted to say hi and wish you all the best of luck.
  • Chat with Hopkins Interactive!

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    Subicon06_2So we know you enjoy Hopkins Interactive and the message boards and the blogs … well tonight we offer you the chance to chat with the students behind all of this.

    Join the Hopkins Interactive students for an online chat!!! Chat_logo_2

    TONIGHT – Sunday, March 25

    9:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT

    Click here for more:

    http://apply.jhu.edu/hi/chat/chat.html

    (To Join the chat, just click on the “Click here to chat” link under the Online Chat logo on that page.)

    Please note these chats are student life chats — not admissions chats. No Admissions staff will be online, and therefore the only questions that will be answered will be about student life at Hopkins. If you have Admissions questions, please use the JHU Forums.

    Are We Done Yet?

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    So that is the big question right now … are we done yet? Not yet, but close. The final stages have begun and I have posted photographic proof below.

    As the Counseling Team finalizes those last admit, wait list, and deny decisions, the Operations team (with the help of many amazing students) has begun the process of generating the letters and preparing for the mailing of the over 14,000 decisions. This is not an easy process and it pretty much takes a full week of 18+ hour days. But we will get it done and make sure that all the mail is out by the end of the month.

    I thought I would share some photographs I took on Friday, truly displaying how hectic the office has become. Enjoy the pictures and scroll to the bottom of this entry for photo captions.

    I will try as best as possible to post every couple of days with more pictures and updates… (click on picture for full view…)

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    • Photo Captions: (top row-left to right, then down to 2nd row left to right, etc.)
    • * “Admit inserts” – those admit packets come with a lot of inserts and the basement file room is the staging area for the stuffing of the packets.
    • * “Letterhead” – lots and lots of letterhead is needed to print all the letters.
    • * “Spending money” – Jameel and Jeremiah looking over files for possible scholarship contenders.
    • * “Rachel +1″ – A pregnant Rachel enjoys an easy job – putting labels on envelopes.
    • * “More labeling” – Emily also labels…
    • * “Even more labeling” – Scott also … well, you get the point.
    • * “Hard at work?” – Thumbs up for sorting of letters.
    • * “One last check” – Mark taking on last look at one of the applicants.
    • * “Drawer checks” – Preparing for the arduous process of drawer checks where we confirm the correct decision letter will go to the right applicant.
    • * “Stuffing” – The ladies working hard (?) to stuff letters and add labels.
    • * “Slacking off” – Mark “fake filing” because he just likes having his photo taken.
    • * “Last Year” – A flashback to last year when our Director pushed one of our bins of mail out of the building on the way to the post office.

    Mother Nature’s Evil Sense of Humour

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    What a truly strange week has just ended!!! No, I am not talking about the Admissions committee work that has been going on non-stop (more on that below). Nor am I talking about March Madness (my brackets are destroyed). Not talking about 24 or LOST either (though both shows had excellent episodes this past week). I am though talking about the WEATHER.

    Now I am not the type of person to converse much about the weather, but what was up with Mother Nature this past week? For those not in the Baltimore area let me just re-cap. At the start of the week we were dealing with traditional early March weather – low 40s to mid 50s with a breeze. Then all of a sudden we had a heat wave. Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but 80 degree weather on March 13 and 14 was a huge and pleasant surprise. But then the skies turned and they turned nasty. First the rains came, then the freezing rain and sleet, then the snow. In less than 24 hours the temperature had to have dropped 60 degrees and sunshine with no clouds turned to gray skies and tons of precipitation. I guess winter wanted to make one last stand before the spring season begins in earnest later this week. Let’s just hope this is the last time I have to hear the words "wintry mix" for 8 or so months. OK, enough of me trying to be Al Roker…

    Not much to update right now. The Admissions team is working very hard, and have another two weeks of truly complicated work ahead of us. We understand how eager many of you are to get your admissions notifications, but do know that we are not delaying this process purposefully. Each day and well into each night, my colleagues and I are struggling over tons of applications making sure that the right decisions are being made and shaping the best Class of 2011 that is possible. This is a truly impressive applicant pool, and I can absolutely declare that this year will go down as the most difficult admissions evaluation seasons of my ten years working in Admissions. Just a little more patience.

    As some of you wait for your decisions, and some (the ED admits) wait for their housing information, others are just beginning the college search process. I thought for all of you I would share a collection of links to keep you occupied. Enjoy:

    I hope you enjoy the links. And for no reason other than I haven’t posted a picture of her lately, here is a new shot of my niece Lilly. She is walking and will be coming to Baltimore this coming weekend to watch Hopkins beat UVA in Lacrosse and celebrate her Uncle’s birthday. Until next time…

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    What time is it?

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    Greetings from the madness. That is my newly minted nickname for this time of year in the world of Hopkins Admissions. The initial reviews of this year’s 14,800+ applications are complete, but we are no where close from being DONE. Now the so-called “fun” begins … as we spend the next two and half weeks shaping and putting together the final class. Committee reviews have commenced and the arduous reviews of our reviews is are primary focus.

    Evaluating 40+ applications day, 7 days a week, for nearly three months is quite overwhelming, but these next round of committee days are hard to explain. Let me take a stab at defining them though — how about excruciating, maddening, stimulating, distressing and formidable all wrap together. Just look at what it has done to Soze…

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    Actually I think what did this to Soze and what has added to the madness is this whole early Day Light Savings time change. On Sunday when I was in the office (yup, no rest for the weary) my watch, clock, computer clock, and phone clock all had different times. Though it is nice that daylight now stays with us longer after our clocks “sprang ahead” (especially on a warm day like today), the early change has definitely messed with my fragile sleep schedule and internal clock. And time is a truly precious thing right now … as the mail date looms.

    Speaking of the mail date, for us it is the light at the end of the tunnel, but for many of you it is that moment you have been counting down since you clicked submit or stamped that envelope to Baltimore. As well, the subject of mail date is the source of one of the most frequently asked questions we address at this time of year. So I thought, as I do from time to time, I would create a FAQ list entry to answer the most pressing questions. Hope this helps!

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    When will decisions be released?

    Though the exact date has not been finalized, we currently are targeting a mail date during the last week of March (between the 26th – 30th). As soon as we know an official mail date I will update the blog. (Do know though that last minute changes do occur and the official mail date is not official until the mail arrives at the Baltimore post office — just check the blog arrives from last March.)

    How will decisions be released?

    We will release decisions the same way we did for Early Decision. First, all the decision letters (admits, wait lists, and denies) must leave the Admissions Office and arrive at the Baltimore main postal center. Then we will follow-up later that day with email decisions to those applicants who provided a current and working email address with their application. Decisions will not be released over the phone until a week after the mail date. There is no way to determine at what time the emails will be sent. As well, please be aware we do not have an online system for checking application status.

    What if my email or mailing address has changed?

    Well, then you need to update us. Please send an email to apphelp@jhu.edu as soon as possible. Include your address update along with your full name, birth date, school, and old address.

    I am wondering if my application is complete?

    Applicants interested in checking if their application has been received and whether it is complete must call the Admissions Office at 410-516-8171. This information will only be discussed over the phone (not through email). Please note that our staff will only confirm if your application has been received and if any required application materials are missing. We are unable to confirm that supplemental materials or specific letters of recommendation have been processed. Rest assured that all applicants’ files are carefully checked for completion. We notify applicants who have incomplete files, and give those students an opportunity to provide us with any missing items, before we evaluate their applications. Once again, if anything is missing, someone from our office will contact you. Be assured that we will not make a decision on your file until it is complete.

    I got an email saying my application is incomplete, will this hurt my chances?

    No. That is why we contact our incomplete applicants and provide them time to send in the necessary materials. Those applications will be reviewed in the same manner as all other applications.

    I’d like to update my application. Will anything I send now be considered?

    You may feel free to update your application any time by sending something through the mail or via fax, 410-516-6025. (Updates through email will not be processed.) Chances are unlikely though that updates will be processed in time to be considered by the Admissions Committee.

    I was admitted Early Decision and sent in my enrollment form and deposit. When should I expect to receive more information?

    Just be a bit more patient. At the end of the month you will receive your next mailing and it will include information about housing selection. Also keep an eye out for an email from us at the end of the month detailing the launch of a special Class of 2011 forum … stay tuned.

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    OK, I am off to go figure out what time (and day) it is … one of my clocks needs to be correct.

    P.S. Admissions_Daniel and the Hopkins Insider continue to make news. Take a look at this recent articles:

    * The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus column – “Demystifying College Admissions” — click here.

    Introducing an Admissions Reader II: Rudy Martinez

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    And now the final installment of meet the JHU Admissions staff – allow us to introduce you to another of the Application readers …

    Name: Rudy F Martinez

    Education: Johns Hopkins Class of 2005: BA in Behavioral Biology and Public Health. Will complete MA in 2007.

    What have you been doing since you graduated?: I went to grad school at Hopkins, and I am now working at Hopkins both in residential life and Admissions.

    Why were you interested in reading applications for your alma mater?: As an undergraduate, I was very involved with Admissions as an Admissions representative, counselor aide, and through the Multicultural student volunteers. Now that I’ve graduated, I knew this would be a great way to give back, and I thought it would be fun helping decide the next class at my alma mater.

    So far, what has been the most difficult part for you when reviewing applications?: Simple answer, everything.

    How do you approach reading an application?: I first try to get a feeling of the applicant’s background i.e. where they’re from, what they’re involved in, what they are interested in majoring and in turn see if they have taken a rigorous curriculum at their high school that would prepare them for said major. Since, I was a student at Hopkins, I just try to imagine if I can see this applicant at JHU.

    My favorite place to read is actually on my couch and using a table tray to spread out the materials. And for some reason, my iTunes playing in the background gets me ‘in the zone’.

    How hard has it been to balance your time?: Not too bad, although reading applications has definitely been a lot more time consuming than I expected.

    What have become your Admissions application pet peeves? (What drives you crazy?): Students not describing their extracurricular involvements to a point where I can understand them. Just putting ‘community service’ or ‘ATDO’ (or a random acronym that I might not necessarily know) is NOT descriptive. Applicants need to understand that we may have no idea where they are coming from or what might be ‘the norm’ for their high school, city or even state. Also, bad grammar and spelling mistakes drive me crazy.

    Now that you are on your way to becoming an expert, any advice on how to approach writing one’s college essays?: PROOFREAD, I was surprised to see how many applicants make mistakes in this area.
    Also, I know this sounds cliche, but be yourself, it’ll come out in the essay. This is the one part of the application where we get a sense of who you are and what your personality/character is like.  Take your time and don’t forget the details, make sure that the essay flows, and by the end of it we get a slightly better picture of you as a person.

    Do you foresee this as a future career option?: It has certainly been fun, and I can market myself as a consultant now, that’s for sure :) But I still hope to go to medical school, so who knows, I might be reading for medical school admissions some day.

    And to finish on a fun note, if stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you?:  A good book, my iPod, and a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.

    I hope you have enjoyed these features. As we are into early March, the Admissions staff is now knee deep in second reviews and committee evaluations. The end of the month is getting closer by the day (the hour / the minute) and that means the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. Now back to work…

    Introducing an Admissions Reader I: Leigh Lieberman

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    Hope you all enjoyed the profiles of Mark and Jeremiah last week, and also took the time to read the profiles of the rest of the Admissions Committee posted last year. Now that you have met the full team, it is time to introduce you to two additional people who assist in the evaluation of applications.

    With 14,000+ applications and just 10 full-time admissions counselors, you need some assistance with the evaluation profess. So each year we hire a handful of professionals to work as Application Readers and assist with the first reads of our applications. In the past and currently we have hired former Admissions staff members, faculty, and other educational professionals to help out. This year we have hired two Admissions readers who share a common past — they both graduated from Hopkins just last year. So without further adieu, allow us to introduce you to Admissions Reader Leigh Lieberman and then stay tuned earliy next week when we introduce Rudy Martinez.

    Name: Leigh Lieberman

    Education: Johns Hopkins Class of 2006: BA in Classic and minor in Mathematics 2006. Will complete MA in Classics in 2007.

    What have you been doing since you graduated?: I’ve got a legitimate reason for sticking around campus after graduation – I’m getting my Masters Degree in Classics. The Department of Classics has a five year BA/MA program. In the fall, I was taking three classes: The Homeric Hymns to Apollo and Hermes, Classical Greek Vase Painting, and Elementary German. I also spent a good portion of my free time working in the JHU Archaeological Collection and dramatically bossing people around as the President of the JHU Barnstormers, the oldest and largest theatre group here on the Homewood campus. This semester, in addition to continuing with Elementary German, I’m also taking a course in Roman  Historiography and working almost full time on my Masters Thesis.

    Why were you interested in reading applications for your alma mater?: With everything that I’ve got on my plate this year, I’m actually surprised that I have time to still work in Undergraduate Admissions!  However, I’ve been active in the office since my sophomore year. I started off as a Blue Key Tour Guide, worked my way up the ladder as a Student Employee and Admissions Representative. During the spring semester of my senior year, I was the Office Intern – not only was I able to continue helping the counseling staff, but I also worked directly with prospective applicants, leading information sessions on campus every day. I also wrote the first ever Guest Blog entry, check it out here. bviously, reading applications was the next step for me. Although reading definitely takes up a lot of time and energy, it’s something that I can do at home in my spare time, so the job compliments my hectic schedule.  Also, having met so many prospective students and having been a part of the thriving student body here at Hopkins myself, I think I offer some important insight as to what *makes* a good Hopkins student, and that’s an important, part of the process.

    So far, what has been the most difficult part for you when reviewing applications?: Every applicant is smart.  Every applicant boasts a pristine transcript coupled with countless community service hours and an extensive resume of leadership positions.  For me, the most difficult part of reviewing an application is trying to distinguish what makes a student unique.  What qualities does this individual have that will really help him or her succeed in this community?  Will he or she make a sincere impact here at Hopkins both inside and outside the classroom?  Every applicant can succeed in one dimension, but I think the students that are truly well-rounded are harder to find on paper.

    How do you approach reading an application?: My favorite place to read applications is Starbucks. Although there are several indie coffee shops right around campus that I love to frequent in my free time, they are generally more cramped and noisier than the corporate chains. Although I’m all about the underdog on your normal academic Wednesday, when I have to read applications, I prefer the peace and comfort of familiarity.  My drink of choice when reading is a Tall Skinny Caramel Macchiatto, in case you wanted to know. 

    Once I’ve got my order settled, I can sit down with a pile of applications, pens of various colors, and a calculator; then, and only then, can I get down to business. I normally read applications from front to back, taking notes as I go through: Part I, Part II, Essays, School Report, and Letters of Recommendation. If applicants send in any supplemental information, I make sure to go through all of that as well; although research abstracts go way over my head, I make sure to store the knowledge in case I need to make small talk at a party later in the week.

    How hard has it been to balance your time?: I always make up a reading schedule, but I tend not to follow it. For instance, Monday mornings, I always plan on waking up, going to Sunrise Yoga at the Rec Center and then sitting down on campus for a few hours to read applications before my 10am class.  However, I inevitably sleep through my alarm, miss yoga entirely, and end up running into class right before the start of the hour.  I set daily goals for myself, though, making sure that I get through a certain number of applications every day so that I don’t get behind.  Also, because I’ve been thrown into the academic deep-end recently with my thesis deadline quickly approaching, reading applications is a good break from the overly academic reading and writing I’ve got to get through each day.

    What have become your Admissions application pet peeves? (What drives you crazy?): I don’t appreciate it when activities both inside and outside the classroom aren’t thoroughly explained.  You might spend most of your free time involved with Key Club or NHS, but if you don’t let me know what that particular organization is all about, I don’t really know what you’ve been up to. Likewise, there’s a big difference between having played on the tennis team in high school and having been the Most Improved Player in tenth grade, Most Valuable Player in eleventh grade, Captain and District Champ in twelfth grade.  Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to attach a separate resume.  I’m able to paint a better picture of an applicant the more you give me to work with.

    Now that you are on your way to becoming an expert, any advice on how to approach writing one’s college essays?: I dislike unenthusiastic and unoriginal *free day* essays. I don’t want to be bored to tears by your lame day. In all seriousness, I can try to offer some humble advice: be unique.  Everyone goes to Central Park or the beach.  Everyone spends the day reading and relaxing or catching up with old friends or family members. Free days don’t come often – we know that – that’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to go all out. Also, remember that although this essay is definitely a creative exercise, you have the opportunity to really characterize what’s important to you.  Use the space to really tell us something about yourself: what you value, and what you find meaningful.

    Do you foresee this as a future career option?: I’ve loved my experiences working in Undergraduate Admissions over the years, at several different levels.  I’ll be honest: a career in this field isn’t my first choice.  I’ve recently applied to PhD programs in Classical Archeology, but if that does not work out, Admissions is my next choice (and it’s by no means a bad backup plan)!

    And to finish on a fun note, if stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you?:  By far the most thought-provoking question in this survey. I’d probably bring my favorite book, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five, a picture of my Mom and Dad and I standing in front of a Circle Line Ferry, and a bathing suit – because a Florida girl knows what to do on a beach.

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