Staff Spotlight on Admissions
So what do we actually “do” anyway?
It’s difficult to explain what happens in the admissions office on any given day. Because our work revolves around students going through an increasingly complex college search process, our jobs seem to change as often as the weather. In fact, perhaps the best way to explain what we do is to talk about things seasonally…
Let’s start in the summer. At this point, while the rest of campus begins to anticipate the incoming students, we have already turned our attention to recruiting the NEXT batch of students. There are three main things that take up our time in the summers.
1 – Summer Visit Days. Twice during the summer, we invite prospective students and families to make the trek out to Appleton, and experience campus life first-hand. You’ll recognize these days because as you’re walking or driving to work, you’ll see many large, neon green—a color we’ve come to call “Anselmint” after our Director, Ken Anselment—signs directing visitors around campus. Which reminds us…if you see one of these signs have fallen, or have been turned in the wrong direction, we would very much appreciate if you lifted it back up. It helps our families to feel less stranded!
2 – Colleges That Change Lives. We are part of an organization of 40 colleges, dubbed by the long-time education editor of the New York Times as the 40 Colleges That Change Lives. During the summer (and into the fall), we travel to cities throughout the country trying to spread the word that admissions should be a student-centered process. Getting to meet thousands of great students interested in Lawrence is a great perk!
3 – Vacations. Since this is the time when the college search process is at a natural lull, we tend to clump our vacations around the summer months. Depending on who you ask in our office, this may actually be the most important part of our summer operations!
An interesting thing happens every fall, entirely by coincidence. The students we had worked so hard to recruit arrive to Lawrence, and we all…get on planes and leave town!
1 – College Fair Season. In the fall, there are more college fairs than you can imagine, all across the country. One of the reasons we can recruit such a geographically diverse student body involves going to meet the students in their own environments. Between high school visits, college fairs and coffee shop interviews, we meet more students than even we can imagine! Each interaction represents another great opportunity to tell someone about Lawrence…even if they decide it’s not the place for them. (However, as our current students will tell you, many people end up feeling that Lawrence IS the place for them.)
2 – Fall Visit Days. Just like the summer visit days, Anselmint (neon green) signs go up everywhere. Families will wander around campus slightly lost, as they search for a classroom to visit, a professor to meet, or a student to show them the campus. This is always a great opportunity for families to start narrowing down the list of colleges they are going to apply to, SO MAKE SURE YOU GIVE THEM A WARM SMILE.
3 – Visitors Galore. Although prospective students can have a visit any time of year, things really kick up in the fall. Our visit coordinator, Kathy Hogan, works individually with each student to set up his or her own itinerary. Whether that’s sitting in on classes, meeting with a professor from a specific department, touring campus, having a college interview, or any other aspect of getting to know Lawrence…it all runs through Kathy.
After traveling all over the country (and world), we arrive back in Appleton just in time for the weather to take a sharp turn towards cold. At this point in the year, high school seniors are putting the finishing touches on their applications. Which means we have to start receiving them!
1 – Document Processing. We have an amazing staff of four processing more than 12,000 individual documents over the course of just a couple months. Students’ transcripts, letters of recommendation, applications, etc., all must be scanned, saved, and stored in the proper place. Although it’s a long process, we’ve come a long way since previous years when everything was filed in paper format. The filing, refiling and refiling again, has been greatly reduced by our move towards a paperless (or, perhaps a less-paper) office.
2 – Application Reading. Once a file has been completely processed, the admissions counselors are next in line, as they get to read every single page of those 12,000+ documents. While doing this, they continuously ask themselves how each student would fit in on our campus, and make recommendations from there.
3 – Admit Packs. Once it’s all said and done, a decision gets made, and the students have to be notified. Thousands of letters (and folders, brochures, viewbooks, business cards) are sent across the country as students everywhere finally get the excitement of being accepted to some of their favorite colleges!
There’s no spring break in admissions! The spring marks the very end…but also the very beginning!
1 – Nudge. After we have determined whom to admit into Lawrence, our next step is to do what we can to help them best understand what Lawrence has to offer. We don’t try a hard “sales” routine; instead our belief is that students should make the decision that’s best for them, and our job is to put the appropriate information in front of them to make that decision.
2 – Admitted Student Days. The Anselmint signs come out again, this time reserved strictly for our admitted students. We’ve heard back time and again that this visit is often the determining factor for dozens of our students who have decided to enroll at Lawrence.
3 – May 1st. Finally, we are done! May 1st is the national acceptance date, by which students are expected to have made their decision, and notified their future college. When the mail arrives on May 1st, the admissions office enters celebration mode, as every envelope that comes in could contain another future Lawrentian committing to Lawrence. After a long year, we can finally sit back, catch our breath and…
4 – May 2nd. Start all over! Once we’ve found the incoming class, we turn our attention to the high school juniors who have started early.