Pet Peeves

Apologies for the long absence, but as you can imagine times are busy in the Admissions Office as we complete the Early Decision process. Since Thanksgiving my time has really been dedicated to the ED process … doing first reads on applications from my region (New England), confirming decisions during the second read process, chairing the Engineering review committee, and working with a colleague on BME selections. The process has been going much smoother than any year before (knock on wood) and hopefully that means this final week will not be TOO hectic. Pa040153

As proof of how busy I have been, I am sitting in my office on a Saturday afternoon. Just a minute ago I was staring out my window onto the Decker Quad taking a mental break from the ED application process. I like to do this occasionally throughout the day, both to refresh my brain for the next application but also because I just have a great Pc050047 view. I showed my view in a previous post (see the picture on the right) but earlier this week I had the joy to look out my window and see something new … SNOW. (See picture on the left) Yes, early this week the Decker Quad and all of Baltimore was coated with a beautiful 4+ inches of snow. The snow began in the morning and throughout the day it just kept falling and accumulating. What a great Hanukkah present!!!


OK, back to my staring out the window. I am relaxing and recharging when IT HAPPENS! My blood pressure begins to boil. I clench my teeth. My toes curl and fingers twist into two fists. I turn away from the window in disgust. Yes, I am getting angry … but why?

Why? Because once again a person is walking across the grass that makes up the beautiful Decker Quad. (Actually it is a circle, but Decker Circle just sounds too weird.) Yes, my anger stems from people trouncing across the well-manicured grass, when there are perfectly numerous brick walkways to get around. I just don’t get it. How much time are you really saving by killing the grass? And why do you have to ruin the beautiful and peaceful blanket of snow?

And it is not just the Decker Quad … I get perturbed whenever I see a student, faculty member, staff member, or visitor walking across the various quads that make up the Homewood campus. I don’t mind it when they walk on the Beach, and I also don’t mind it if you are on the grass to hang out, study, chat with friends, make a Snowman, etc. I just can not stand it when you walk across the grass to get from point A to point B because you are too lazy to walk along the brick walkways.

Most of you right now are thinking that Admissions Daniel has flipped his lid. You think I am over-reacting and there is no reason I should get angry because people are walking on the grass. And though I concede there is a bit of over-reaction on my part, I can’t help it. Why? Because it is one of my PET PEEVES. And as any one who has Pet Peeves knows (and that is everyone right?) you can’t control them.

Urban Dictionary defines “pet peeve” as “an irritating experience caused by others in which you cannot control.” has three definitions for “pet peeve”:

  1. A particular and often continual annoyance; personal bugbear.
  2. Something about which one frequently complains; a particular personal vexation.
  3. An opportunity for complaint that is seldom missed.

Wikipedia even provides background on the origin of the phrase:

The term originated from the word ‘peeve’, and is relatively recent – its first printed usage was in 1911. The term is a back-formation from the 14th-century word ‘peevish,’ meaning ornery or ill-tempered.

How ever you define it, pet peeves exist and I have many of them. Cell phone behavior (I don’t care about the new shoes you bought), people who spell the word definitely incorrectly (no As), SPAM (all forms even the fake ham), drivers who leave their turn signal on (doesn’t the clicking sound annoy you?), Paris Hilton (enough said), Bill Belicheck news conferences (and his smug attitude), and almost all local television newscasters (especially the weather people). But my greatest pet peeve, the one that grinds my teeth, is the Crossing of the Quads.

So what does this rant have to do with the realm of College Admissions? Well, I thought that I would share with you all some of my occupational pet peeves that I have acquired over my ten years on the job. Before the list though, I want you all to read the following DISCLAIMER:

These are just pet peeves of Admissions Daniel. They are not reasons why we do not offer admission to students. If an applicant happens to do one of these actions, they will not be automatically denied. In fact, it will not impact the admissions decision. The list is just common annoyances that we often deal with, but they do not cloud our judgment of applicants.

I need to write that disclaimer, because I know the hysteria that exists about the college admissions process. You all read a list like the one that follows, and then the panic sets in, the fear takes over, the anxiety and paranoia increase … don’t let that happen now. This is just a fun little list of my pet peeves and is not directed at you personally. Now on to the list (in no particular order):

  1. Misspelling the name of the University. This is the cardinal sin in my point-of-view. It is Johns Hopkins University. Yes, JohnSSSSS HopkinSSSSS. Don’t forget the S. It is simple.
  2. Dear Rice University… You would not believe how many times we receive emails, letters, and application materials for other Universities. We know you are applying to other schools and that is fine, but please double-check who you are writing to when sending materials. The worst culprit of this pet peeve … teacher letters of recommendation. I “love” the letters that start by recommending the student for Hopkins, then in the second paragraph they say the student is a perfect match for Northwestern, and then end by stating that Rice must have this student in their next class.
  3. Let’s talk Emails. First, don’t use inappropriate email addresses (you know I am talking to you When emailing use proper sentence structure, paragraphs, punctuation just like if you were writing a letter (this is not an IM, ok LOL, OMG, IDK). Finally, when sending us an email, please sign-it. It is frustrating when writing back to Anonymous, especially if you are writing to have materials sent to you or checking on application.
  4. Go University of Virginia. When visiting you might think it is cool to wear a shirt or sweatshirt of another school, but honestly that is just annoying. Especially if the clothing is for a school where we destroy them on the Lacrosse field (namely Duke!!!).
  5. Parents!!! We like that you are involved, we encourage it. HOWEVER, let your child talk. And NEVER call or email I pose as your son or daughter. We know it is you. Plus, please let them fill out the applications. It is difficult to process a student’s application when their birth date is 3/22/1964. (Yes, it happens.)
  6. Inappropriate ______. It has amazed me in my years the seemingly inappropriate behavior some students show. Extremely provocative clothing (please cover up) … Cursing (soap in the mouth time) … Sleeping in the lobby during a visit (please take your shoes off our table and stop snoring) … Talking about illegal activities (so I was smoking pot and yadda yadda yadda) … and on and on. I understand students are nervous, but that manifests itself in behavior I understand and somewhat appreciate (biting nails, twirling hair, lots of “ums” in speech). There is a difference though and inappropriate behavior is absurd in my humble opinion.
  7. Applying Mistakes. Misspellings don’t bother me much (except Jon Hopkinds & the word definitely) … poor capitalization can be annoying but is fine … not using correct punctuation every time is understandable. What really gets me is an application that is sloppy, messy, and clearly never proofread. Yes, it is easy to apply to colleges now with online forms and the common application, but that doesn’t mean it should only take 10 minutes of your time. Would you do that when applying for a job??? What does it say about you when you submit a sloppy application?
  8. What is your name? Please, please, please apply with only one name. The greatest pet peeve of my colleagues in Operations is when application materials come in for an applicant under multiple names, nicknames, or just with a first name listed. We process materials for over 16,000+ applicants … please respect this an make sure all your materials are easy to process and merge together.
  9. Contact points. You will not be admitted because you contacted us 25 times in a one-week period. Some schools do value interest, but that doesn’t mean we want you to call to just say hello, or email us to let us know that your Alphabet Soup spelled JHU yesterday. All of us enjoy speaking and being in contact with you when there is a legitimate point. Our time though is precious and it is annoying when we receive disingenuous messages where the student is just trying to “accumulate points.”
  10. Independent counselors. I understand they are out there, and that is fine. But they are not the ones applying … so they should not be writing the essays, completing the applications, and contacting the schools on “behalf” of the student.
  11. Filler extracurriculars. Hanging with friends … are you Vice-President of that club? Playing video games … is that community service? Partying … did you get a certificate for that?
  12. Is it a postmark deadline? Though this is a legitimate question, it is one of my great pet peeves because clearly the person asking the question is considering procrastinating. If you are stressing about that January 1st submission / postmark (???) deadline then you have been wasting time somewhere along the way. Yes, all deadlines are postmark deadlines but why wait. In the time you are asking the question and waiting for the response, you could be completing your application and submitting it way in advance of the deadline.

Since talking about pet peeves has a negative tone, I thought I would end this post on a positive note … new pictures of Soze and Lilly. Enjoy, and I’ll be back later in the week with ED updates and info for RD applicants. Cheers!



12 thoughts on “Pet Peeves

  1. Thanks for taking time to post again in a long time. I found your posts have been one of the best, if not the best, from someone in admissions office around the country.
    You should consider to put together your posts and thoughts into a book for publishing. You may have thought this already.
    Thanks again.

  2. i definately love john hopkins!!
    I can’t believe you would scare applicants right before ED decisions come out by making them doubt their teacher recommendations!
    But other than that some very wise tips for RD folks. Especially #5! I wish my mom saw that last year!

  3. phew, finally an update. i assume since there’s no mention of releasing decisions early, we should expect them on saturday?
    thanks for taking time out to blog :)

  4. Actually, Josh was making a joke … both by spelling Johns with out the “S” and by spelling definitely with an “a”!

  5. ahhhh im so stressed out I keep having dreams about getting in…and its gonna be so sad if when I find out i got rejected

  6. I LOVE walking across the grass at JHU – I had NO idea it was a pet peeve of yours. But now, thinking back over the past four years, I guess I have never really seen you do it, though I do it constantlY!

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