Ah, fall. A magical time of apple picking, pumpkin spice everything (Pringles, seriously?!), and, in the case of admissions offices around the country: Travel Season.
Travel Season (/travəl sēzən/), noun: A time of year in admissions offices where counselors go on the road to visit as many high schools as humanly possible.
Every counselor is assigned to a geographic region and they are responsible for visiting high schools in those states to meet with prospective students and share information about Oberlin. This year, Oberlin admissions folks interacted with 1,004 high schools through a combination of in-person and virtual visits. My territory consists of Michigan (my home state!), Delaware, Maryland, DC, and Virginia.
My travel season summed up in numbers:
Miles traveled: 4,800
In-person school visits: 61
Virtual school visits: 35
Days on the road: 24
Hotels: 7 (plus some time at mom and dad’s)
National landmarks visited: 5
Rental cars: 3
Cups of coffee: infinity
This year was my first year doing in-person recruitment in the DC area and let me tell you, the traffic is… not great. It made me immediately more grateful for living in Ohio, where the traffic is minimal, parking is free, and no one ever honks at you. Also, thank goodness for GPS. Back in the day, my colleagues used to have to do this with a paper atlas.
Having a travel season every year makes it challenging to have a pet, so instead, I have a lot of plants. And yes, some of them have names (but only if I can really get a feel for their personality, you know?). Though most are pretty low-maintenance, being in and out of my apartment for six weeks still presents a problem in terms of keeping them alive. Solution? My plants are on vacation at my parents’ house in Michigan. A huge shoutout to my mom for being game for my daily morning text telling her which ones need to be watered or rotated for even sun exposure.
But even amidst the plant planning, traffic, parking challenges, and jet lag of travel season, in-person visits are one of my favorite parts of this job. At this point, we’ve all had enough Zoom to last three lifetimes. It’s so nice to be able to connect with prospective students in person, to have real conversations with you and get to know you beyond “put in the chat what you’re thinking about for a major.” Our admissions office does what’s called a “holistic review” of applicants, which means that we look at every aspect of your application and try to evaluate you within your context. In-person visits help us get to know your school and give a little extra insight into your background that we can’t get on Zoom (especially if your camera is off).
As October comes to a close, fall travel has mostly concluded and we are gearing up for my other favorite time of year: reading season! Our first deadline is just a few weeks away, and I can’t wait to start reading applications and building the Oberlin Class of 2026.