Committee Round 1 – An Embarassment of Riches

Monday, December 10, 2012 by Thyra

On Friday, we finished our first day of Early Decision committee. As is always the case, it took us a while to get back into the committee swing of things, but by the end of the day it seemed as if we hadn’t stopped since last year.  (If any of you are Early Decision applicants and worry that you were somehow short changed by our need to get up to speed, rest assured that in fact the opposite is true. We spend longer on our first several to remind ourselves how we best evaluate students’ applications.) For several of us, this is, in fact, our favorite time of year. After months of meeting all of you on our campus and in your community, admission committee is where it all comes together.

As Jamilla mentioned in her previous post, admission committee is where the six admission staff members (this year joined by Colleen, our former staff member who is reading part time for us) sit around a table and discuss all of our applicants.  This year we were laughing at the trailer for the new Tina Fey movie which shows the movie’s fictional Princeton admission committee sitting around the table all dressed up. We find we make better decisions when we can be comfortable, so we are anything but buttoned-up in our committee.  There is much laughter, largely because our applicants, like our students, have wonderful senses of humor, and we love it when they let that show (when appropriate!) in their applications. Most of what we do, however, is much more serious in nature.  We find ourselves frequently pausing to appreciate the accomplishments our applicants, and we are often humbled by all that they have done.

Whoever was the regional first reader for the application presents it to the rest of us and serves as the primary advocate in committee.  Then we all have a chance to view the file ourselves online and to ask questions before we make our decision. During these conversations, it’s not uncommon for us to look at specific recommendations and of course at the transcript.  But we also look at students’ answers to what about HMC appealed to them to see if they understand our curriculum and community. Yes, that was an admission tip to all those of you who are still filling out our HMC supplement.

We still have another meeting tomorrow to finalize our decisions, and then we hope to put our decisions in the mail no later than Thursday. Yes, we still use snail mail for these notifications with the exception of our international students who will receive their decisions via e-mail.

I love this part. I love that we are beginning to shape the Class of 2017, knowing the impact that each individual has on our community. I know that not everyone will receive the decisions they are hoping for, but seeing how talented all of our applicants are, I know that all will find a home next fall.  You all are amazing, and we are fortunate to get to know you.