Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Today's Special: College Admissions by Admissions Officers Themselves

Today was a progression of yesterday with a little something extra. As time cotninues, I find myself adjusting. That's actually one of the things that we covered in class today: Culture Shock. There are 4 stages. First there's the "Honeymoon" phase where things seem so great and perfect because they're so new. The second is the "Withdrawl" phase where an individual becomes more familiar with their new environment and is able to identify what things present themselves as conflicts to them. I feel like I'm at the third, "Adjustment." I'm accustoming myself to a routine, but am still new to the difference of such schedule here at VSA. People might go all over the place, back and forth, and such, however, I'm on my way towards "Enthusiasm," where someone begins to familiarize their surrounding environment as their "home." Breakfast begins the day. The beginning of class awakens us, and sometimes also tires us. Breaks are great. The end of them are dreaded. Class becomes mindblowing by then. We are engaged. We want to know more. Lunch. Class again. Arete. Dinner- and today, we had something new.

Today's special: college admissions. We had a panel of about 10 admissions officers that constitutes only a part of the entire selection committee here at Vanderbilt. We were taken to the Wyatt Building, where my class happens to be and walked into a class on one end of the building, where my class, also coincidentally, happens to take place. The group I was in was a mix of my and another proctor group. The objective was to examine and make choices like an admissions officer. We were given three packets, each entailing the lives of three different individuals differing in interests, strengths, personalities, work ethic, character strengths, test scores, and other qualities. I can go into all three in depth, but there were some takeaways.

I don't know whether to see them as cheesy, but personally they make sense to me. One of those takeaways was that SAT does not always dictate whether you will be admitted, especially when your work ethic is not reflected in your transcript and when you are only great at about two things and not so good at other things, but don;t quite show effort or well-rounded motivation. I'm biased on that one. There's also other points of views though. For example, the type of school a student is applying to and the unique, individualized fit for a student and the school is important. Anyhow, another one was that the personal connection you make with your reader is gold. At least from how our [student] group examined the three profiles, we had an emotional connection with one of the profiles. In fact, this example reminded me much of many of the students from my community who actively work towards going to college and using their opportunities to get them somewhere. This profile was of a student that represented overcoming challenges, humility [or being exceptionally humble], having initiative, and being the first in his family to go to college. For that matter, I was extremely fond of this character, however, I did see the uglier side to this from an admissions perspective. I saw that it's competitive- a given, though. What distinguishes this, though, is that the other two students had either or of the following, such as: better academic qualifications, talents, alumni connections, better ability to pay, and/or test scores. Even so, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that when everyone congregated once anew in the main room, each group representative (from each of our group) explained who the group voted on either accepting, wait-listing, or denying. Most groups had waitlisted or accepted this student profile, Alex, I was reminded and fond of. I saw that everyone picked up that personal connection, empathy, and noteworthiness that stood out  to them through this student's overcoming of challenges, initiative, and other unique personal qualities as a human being. by this student. There's so much complexity that can go into this, however, it just made me think of the admissions process slightly outside of myself as individual and more as a part of the entire applicant pool.

That leads me to class. We discussed the the different bodies: the individual as itself, the social body, and the body politic. In this case, this makes me think of the social body. College is practically a new community composed of students. It's a smaller-scale society. A college admissions looks at different things, You have to make sure you can get your story across, make it unique to you, your should demonstrate initiative, and overall fit with the school you apply to. It's an arduous task and it definitely takes major reflection, hard work, sense of direction/purpose, and eventually some amount of an inevitable sense of anxiety.

On a final note, I enjoy our proctor meetings. As inconvenient as they may be being at night, leaving us with only a half hour before lights out, they give our group a sense of bonding. Today we went over some announcements but we also shared oms embarrassing stories. I sure had a few laughs. Some were just bluntly funny, others random and peculiar, and just plain weird (haha!!)! Other than that, class is rising in the level of complexity and excitement. We do have reading to do, but that's something else. Overall, it's interesting and opens up your mind to a different perspective on health and the perceptions that come from the people with different backgrounds. That's a wrap for tonight. I'm adjusting here at VSA. There are many more interesting activities in the near future. I'll save those for tomorrow's blog. Goodnight!

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