It’s fall, and for many admissions staff that means applications to review. But for me and for our review team, it means more. It means getting to know each of you who apply—your ambitions, your goals, how you want to change the world—and I imagine all the amazing things you’ll do as a Blugold.
Your essays make me fall in love with UW-Eau Claire all over again, and they make a lasting impression on me: I remember the student who rewired his entire school and rebuilt computers for his school lab; his enthusiasm and passion filled me with gratitude that we could be a part of what was bound to be a successful path. I remember an essay from a student who apologized for not having more activities because she held a 40-hour per week job to support her family. She held a 3.3 GPA and was Class President. I wanted to hug her. And sometimes I do. I remember emailing a student after he shared a particularly harrowing experience he’d been through and how he’d overcome it. He was so surprised, “Someone actually reads the essays!?” :) Yes, we do.
You tell us how you are more than an ACT or SAT score, more than just that one test on that one given day. You tell us that sometimes you mess up as a high school freshman, but you kick it into gear and by the end of junior year, you are rocking those tough courses. You tell us that you are learning time management—whether that’s because you are involved in music, theatre, sports and other school activities, or because you are involved in your church or community, or because you have a job and/or need to support your family.
When we are at our very best in admissions, we are listening to everything you tell us and using all of it to make an admissions decision. It doesn’t always mean we can make a decision to admit, and you want me to be picky about that because the worst thing I can do is have you start with us and flounder because you aren’t prepared for that step. I don’t celebrate the class we welcome on day one; I celebrate freshmen who continue to the spring semester—and to the following year. And I celebrate the student who I couldn’t admit as a freshman but takes us up on a transfer plan and gets to exactly where he wants to be.
This is the beauty of my job, and of this campus. We want to see you as the whole student, and I would not—could not—do it any other way.
PS … I know there can be a lot of anxiety around the application process, so here’s my advice on how to take it down a notch:
- Be thorough—Complete all sections of the application … The more you give us, the more dimension you give yourself.
- Be your own advocate—Reach out to counselors at your top-choice schools and tell them it’s your top choice, and why. We are more likely to admit a student who we know is familiar with our campus and culture and feels it’s a fit.
- Be honest—Address the parts of you that may convey you aren’t ready for college and share what you’re doing to overcome that and get prepared.
- Glow!—Shine a light on the parts of you that show you are ready for college. This is not a time to be humble.
- Be patient and persistent—It’s OK if you have to take a path different than the one you first anticipated. There is almost always a path to get you where you want to go; it just sometimes has a few bends in it.