It's that time of year again, where Oberlin is blanketed with snow and I am nice and warm in my home....reading.
During the months of January, February, and March, the admissions counselors at Oberlin are given days outside of the office to read files. I usually read at home because it's the best place for me to really focus and buckle down to read. In January, we start off with half days, and it increases through March to two and half days of reading time. I've always dreamed of going to Starbucks to read files in front of a nice warm fireplace. Unfortunately, the nearest Starbucks is 6 miles away, so I'd lose a lot of reading time just in travel. Therefore, home is where I stay.
I can read anywhere from 400 to 600 applications each year. All in all, it is fascinating to read about the students that apply to Oberlin. It's almost like being beamed into the student's world for the 15 to 30 minutes you spend reading their file. Since one of the areas I read for, Illinois, is my home, I really enjoy reading applications of students and imagining where they are in Chicago or other parts of the metropolitan area. Sometimes, I even get to read applications from students who attend the same schools I attended and even for students who live near where I grew up. What's especially nice is when a student actually mentions you by name in their supplement essay. Of course that's more rare since most students focus on trying to convey their interest in your school with their best writing.
I also enjoy many of the essays students write. You never know what topic you will find most interesting. I've been very surprised over the years. The topics can be anything like fly fishing, mission trips, soccer games, favorite authors, loving grandparents, and the list goes on. I look forward to learning more about the students, but I must say after about 300 applications, it does get pretty hard to stay engaged (which is why I wish Starbucks was closer). With that being said, before you know it, it's all over and the end of March arrives. Then the real fun begins, as we greet the happy students who visit our campus to share in the celebration of their accomplishment.
I guess I should wrap this up with some advice. Though the hard part, putting the application together, is done, don't forget about the admissions counselors that are responsible for reading your application. We like to hear from you. You never know if we have just finished reading your application and have a question. So as you sit back and wait anxiously for April 1, shoot us an email. Do keep in mind that if you want to know if all the parts of your application arrived, you will need to wait a couple of weeks after the deadline for office staff to sort through and properly file all the pieces. Since our office does not have a way for you to check the status of your application electronically, we send out letters to students letting them know if anything is missing from their application. So try to be patient. I know it can be hard, but think of me and all the other counselors steadily working towards the goal....your decision letter.