A look behind the admissions process

It’s official! As of today, admission decisions are in the mail! Just as prospective students patiently await their admit packet, Admissions Officers are looking forward to the next phase of the process. Once the decisions safely arrive in mailboxes across the country (and email inboxes worldwide for our international students), we’ll be calling you to say “congratulations,” hand-writing notes, and welcoming families to campus all through the spring.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, some of you may be wondering what we did in those months between clicking submit on the Common Application and receiving a big gold envelope in your mailbox.

Aleece DeWald reads applications from western states including Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, and more!
Aleece DeWald reads applications from western states including Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, and more.
JB Tut reads applications from Iowa and Illinois. (Stacks of papers and stressful faces added for dramatic purposes).]

For many families, the application process can be fairly confusing. In Admissions, my colleagues and I work to demystify the process as much as possible. To do so, we often start by reminding families that admissions officers are people, too! That means that when I read an application from my territory, or the states that I work with personally, I pull that application up on my laptop and begin to read. Often we read applications outside the office in quiet coffee shops, at our dining room tables, or (every so often) on our living room couches. We read all the different pieces that go into the application. That means we read recommendations, transcripts, and yes, the essays.

After the first officer reads an application from his or her territory, another officer reads the application a second time. The applications then move to my favorite stage–committee. In committee, officers advocate for particular students. This is where the nuance of our holistic review process really shines. Although GPA and test score certainly come up, we also talk about students’ families, passions, aspirations, struggles, and anything else that shaped their educational experience.

After months of reading applications and weeks of committee, we finally send out decisions. As much as I enjoy reading season, I can’t wait to congratulate the students I have worked with all year. Perhaps more importantly, my colleagues and I are looking forward to discussing with students why we think St. Olaf could be a great fit for them!