Recognizing Humanity in the College Admissions Process

By Allison Luhrs, College Counselor

Sometimes we forget that college admissions representatives are real people. It’s easy to imagine them as frightful entities who sit in spare offices and make cold, calculated admissions decisions. We picture them searching for any possible reason to deny students entrance to their institutions. Luckily, the truth is almost the opposite.

Our annual Mock Admissions Night (scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 this year) for juniors and their families is a highlight of the college counseling program because it humanizes the whole college admissions process. Each year we invite a handful of college admissions representatives from across the country to join us at EPS for an evening and to walk our community through the consideration of three mock admissions applications to a fictitious college. This year we’ll be joined by Melody Ferguson, Director of Admission at Pacific Lutheran University; Mark Hatch, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Colorado College; James Miller, Director of Admissions at UW Bothell; Duffy Moran, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Boston University; Alishia Ruff, Admissions Counselor at UW Seattle; Mike Sexton, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Santa Clara University; and Carey Thompson, Vice President of Enrollment and Communications and Dean of Admission at Rhodes College. With their wealth and diversity of experience reading admissions applications and building freshman classes, the group will be able to help our community peer behind the curtain to see what the admissions process really looks like on the colleges’ side.

Juniors prepare for the night by reading and analyzing the mock admissions files and will be tasked with choosing one student to admit, one to waitlist, and one to deny; in small groups, they are guided through the process by one of the visiting admissions representatives. Meanwhile, parents have the chance to ask questions of other representatives in a casual Q&A setting. Ultimately, everyone will walk away from the night realizing that every applicant has merits and a story to share, no admissions file is perfect, and that those people working to admit students are human beings with a very real desire to create an incoming class in which every admitted student will feel successful and supported.

When our current juniors start sending off applications next fall, hopefully they will remember the Mock Admissions Night and the very human and well-intentioned people who will be reading their files and helping them find their next academic home