Overheard in Committee — The Selecting Continues

Admit It!  You read last week’s Overheard in Committee blog, and you want more.  Well we aim to please.  Early Decision Committee has been in full swing for the past several days and there’s plenty to discuss.  We’ve very much enjoyed reviewing the applications of those who applied Early Decision and crafting the first part of the Class of 2017.  But every now and again we feel an application has left us with more questions than answers.  To that end, here’s what was overheard in Committee yesterday.

“What the heck happened in 10th grade?”

As we were reviewing the file of an applicant, we noticed that this otherwise straight-A student, performed poorly in the 10th grade earning a smattering of Bs and Cs.  Yet nothing in the file addressed why.  The student didn’t make mention of it. No recommenders made mention of it.  It’s as if everyone just hoped we wouldn’t notice.  That is unfortunately wishful thinking.  And it’s better for us to know what happened than to be left to make assumptions.  Maybe the student had a serious illness.  Maybe there was a death in the family.  Maybe there was an undiagnosed learning disability.  Maybe, maybe, maybe….

We’ve mentioned this in previous blogs but it bears repeating: you can never tell us too much, only too little.  If there’s something that’s a bit out of sorts in your application, tell us about it.  Maybe it’s something small like a scheduling conflict.  Maybe it’s something much more dramatic like needing to change high schools.  Maybe it’s thoughtfully explaining a disciplinary infraction.  Maybe it’s why your grades dropped your sophomore year.  Maybe it’s why you had to quit a particular extracurricular activity.  We understand the trials and tribulations of high schoolers; all of us were high schoolers once.  We also know that sometimes circumstances are beyond your control.  We can consider those circumstances when reviewing your application—but only if you share them with us.  There’s an entire portion of the Common Application called “Additional Information”.  Use it if you need to do.  Please.  Do yourself that service.  Because if you don’t, we’re left only with our assumptions, and you know what they say about those who assume.

So back into Committee we go, continuing to craft W&M’s 320th class.  As we do so, and as we reflect on the upcoming holiday, we are grateful to be in the position we are – to select from among the nation’s best, brightest and most accomplished students—and to work for an institution in which we all believe so deeply.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission