It is mid-December, so most of the US is in full holiday mode. My favorite radio station has been taken over by holiday music, the houses in my neighborhood are full of lights and inflatable animals, and the tracking of Amazon packages is a daily activity. And while I have grown a little heavier every year and my kids think I am seriously old, the lack of a snowy white beard and a red suit should let you know I am not Santa Claus.
The problem is, many people view admissions offices a little like Santa Claus. We spend the year reviewing the background history of children and young adults, determining if they have been naughty or nice, and then on December 25th (or in our case three Friday afternoons) we deliver either happiness or tears by the type presents we give. It is the ultimate judgment call about a person’s self worth.
Santa is working off of a good vs bad comparison based off of a judgment call concerning your behavior over the last year. He has two choices, and I am assuming he has some gauge to determine how good or bad you have been, and some sort of scale or scoring rubric. I have no idea if he involves any elves, reindeer or Mrs. Claus in his decision making, or if it is just late nights and a lot of cocoa. I also have no idea how convincing the letters he receives are, and whether he puts any stock into begging, pleading and bribes of cookies and milk. Either way, he gets to make the final call and determine your goodness/badness.
Admissions, while seemingly similar, is based off of a different model. Yes, we love kind notes, cookies and milk, and the occasional cup of cocoa or coffee, but these don’t sway our decisions. We have no magical workshop filled with cheery elves, but instead an office of wonderful admission counselors reading files and answering questions (although by March, I would not call them cheery – more likely sleep-deprived). We don’t have a meter or gizmo to determine good vs bad, but instead are looking at what each applicant brings to the table academically and personally, and then deciding how many we can admit from the applicant pool to bring in just the right size freshman class. And Santa doesn’t have to deal with angry parents the day after Christmas (just frustrated parents trying to put together a present at one in the morning and trying not to curse too loud).
When we make an admission decision, we are not passing judgment on you. We are not saying you are a good or bad person, that we like you or not, or if we want to swipe left or right. Seriously. We have a huge number of great applicants who will do wonderful things in college, but we can only admit a certain number of students due to limitations on our freshman class size. As such, our decisions are not based on how “good” you are, but on selecting a certain number of students who we feel will have an impact both academically and personally on our campus in future years.
As such, while both admissions and Santa make decisions, our office is not making a value judgment on you being good or bad, naughty or nice. We suggest you go into the admissions process with the goal of finding a good match for your college experience for both you and the colleges to which you apply. Find the fit and stay positive. Remember what Buddy the Elf says: “I just like to smile; smiling is my favorite.”