In the past month, my program has interviewed more than 120 students in intensive, day-long sessions. Each student has been scrutinized by at least three, and in most cases four, faculty members. We've scored three essays for content, two for writing mechanics; we've evaluated performance in small discussion groups; we've added consideration for standardized test scores, GPA, high school recommenders, and the impressions of the faculty involved in the process.
As of tomorrow at 8 am, all the scores should be in, all the students' portfolios complete. And we've blocked off half a day to do nothing but sift through the list, sorting them this way and that, to identify the 55 to whom we'll offer admission, and rank-order those who will have alternate status.
My boss and I were comparing the task to that of the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee. As for them, much of the decision-making about who's in and who's out is easy. Those who absolutely don't belong are clear; those who are the top contenders are clear. It's the last ten students to be offered admission, and the first ten to miss the cut, who will be difficult to deal with.
The hard decisions aren't what I'm looking forward to. The real appeal is the view at 12:01 pm -- the list of the students who will be joining us as the incoming freshman class in the fall. It's a far more intimate group than we've had in the past. So I feel like every single one counts. I'd really like to spread their polaroids out, American Idol Hollywood-week style, and just sort them into piles. I'd like to see their faces when they find out that they're part of this elite group. And I'd like to reassure those who fell just short that making it past the first rounds of scrutiny is a great accomplishment in itself.