LMU’s Early Action application deadline recently passed. This always marks a significant transition in the work of an admission office. Throughout the fall, the admission counselors have been “on the road,” visiting high schools, attending college fairs and college nights, and meeting prospective students and their parents and counselors across the country. Our travels this fall took us to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida and Hawaii, in addition to California, and those are just our domestic stops. We also visited 27 countries outside the US.
Now, after several weeks when it seemed like the staff office area was a ghost town, the counselors are back. We have received over 4,000 Early Action applications, and we have promised these students a response before the University closes for a brief Christmas break. So, we turn the page from focusing on recruitment activities to focusing on the very different work of carefully reading everything these 4,000+ applicants have sent us. Since the Regular Decision deadline comes up very soon after the holiday break and brings even more applications (approximately 25% of our applicants apply for Early Action, and 75% under Regular Decision), evaluating applications will be job #1 for the admission staff for the next five months.
When I meet students on the road and when I read their applications, I am continually struck- and reassured- by how genuinely interested they are in learning about their prospective colleges and the admission process, and how seriously they work on representing themselves authentically in their applications. This is a stressful time for them- it’s unfamiliar territory, it’s time consuming and anxious- but my impression is that they grasp and trust that such an important process can’t be easy, and believe there will be a correlation between the quality of their effort and their satisfaction with the outcome.
So, as we begin to read these applications, I remind our staff that we must take every application seriously and review each with great care- we owe our prospective students nothing less. We won’t be able to admit everyone we might like to, and few students expect to be admitted to every college to which they apply (though hope springs eternal, of course, especially among 18 year olds). They understand that some disappointment is likely when they receive their decisions. The vast majority will be OK with this as long as they believe they have made their best effort, and that we have been thoughtful and fair in our decisions.