It's reading season, and I don't mean winter time when I get to curl up with a good book (one of my favorite things to do). It's the time of year when admissions counselors are hunkered down reading applications. We have a lot to get thru - my reading queue shows that I have over 430 applications from New York City and Westchester County, plus I'll read several hundred applications from China. Since every application receives two reviews, I will also serve as a second reader on roughly 400 applications. If you're doing the math at this point, you'll realize that I'm reading roughly over 1,100 applications before mid March.
This is a pretty solitary time for counselors. We generally get to spend a couple days reading applications outside of the office so that we can really focus and read without distraction. Of course we all have our own strategies for getting thru our stacks of files; I set a goal of getting thru so many and then reward my sweet tooth with a treat. At lunchtime, I try to work out (to work off all the sweets I ate on my breaks). I need quiet so that I can concentrate and my favorite place to read files is Panera - I can drink tea all day long and have access to yummy treats at the same time. In the evening after my boys are in bed, I read more files in an attempt to tackle the stacks which never seem to dwindle at this point. I do try to read a book before I go to bed; if I don't, I end up dreaming about the essays students wrote!
I hope it doesn't sound like I find this part of my job to be tedious, because I really do view it as a privilege. I have the unique opportunity to craft the Oberlin community by making recommendations to the selection committee on who we should invite to be an Obie. And I do enjoy committee; sitting around the table with my colleagues for 8 hours may not seem like fun to you, but we're a pretty tight knit group and thankfully we enjoy each other's company (plus there's usually chocolate to help get thru the day). Of course there are times we don't agree and some arguments have ensued in the past, but when we take a break, we leave the table knowing we did our best for the applicants and for Oberlin. All of us are looking forward to the end of March when we mail our decisions and cut into the TGTLAITM cake. (TGTLAITM = Thank God the Letters Are In The Mail)