Thanks to the work of courageous leaders in the field who pioneered a shift towards transparency, the college admission process is no longer veiled in a shroud of secrecy. Prospective students, parents and counselors who seek to learn more about how admission decisions are made and how the process works can do just that, just by asking. As an industry we have developed an openness about our work and a willingness to share what we do that I hope our audiences find inviting and informative. As a practitioner, I know I find it invigorating.
Yet anxiety continues to swirl and mount over gaining entrance to America's most prestigious colleges and universities. Student apply to more schools each year, and more individuals are finding ways to capitalize on the admission frenzy and make money on the process regardless of the profession's willingness to draw back the curtain. Despite our progressive movement resulting in clearer messaging and better education about the process, admission remains a dubious concept to many.
I feel confident that most prospective students now have an idea what is considered when their applications are reviewed, but I'm not convinced they grasp how it's being considered, and why. By this I'm not referring to the process through which an admission decision is made - that's covered under the umbrella of topics on which we've become quite candid - rather I'm referencing the context of the evaluations or discussions that take place and ultimately lead to an admission decision.
And it's not that admission offices are negligent in creating these resources - between Facebook, twitter, blogs and websites, they're plentiful. A personal favorite of mine is the College of William & Mary's Admit It! blog. The posts, written exclusively by Senior Assistant Dean of Admission Wendy Livingston, accurately depict what goes through the mind of an admission officer when reviewing a file or discussing an applicant in committee. The blog also offers useful advice related to visiting different schools, preparing for interviews, composing essays and completing applications. Wendy addresses these topics from personal points of view - personal both to a prospective student and personal to an admission officer.
Similarly, Tufts offers an informative yet playful look into the inner workings of its admission office through its blogs and twitter account. The Tufts blogs offer insights into the school's admission process, keeping readers up-to-date with the latest happenings from the application review season and Tufts admission committee meetings. Meanwhile, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Daniel Grayson utilizes the @TuftsAdmissions twitter account routinely to share casual commentary - and the occasional funny photo - from day-to-day happenings in the office, reading applications, participating in committee discussions, interacting with visitors and traveling to represent the University.
Higher education and admission - with outstanding assistance and support form the marketing and IT professionals on our campuses - have embraced social media and related technologies, opening up new avenues for communication. It's paramount that we're able to use these tools to foster authentic relationships with our audiences.
Where the Tufts blogs and social media efforts truly excel is in humanizing its staff and making those who review applications and render admission decisions relate-able. As an admission professional, I am a fan of what William & Mary, Tufts and countless other institutions have created, and I do my best to contribute to the larger conversation when I can. I believe that our relate-ability is crucial to our efforts to encourage engagement with prospective students and, consequently, our efforts to empower students with better knowledge and awareness of the college admission process.