Seeing a student from start[ing the application] to finish[ing college] is truly a cool experience. It's not every day that admissions officers get to see both because this field is pretty transient; each year we’re talking to a new group of people entirely. Hence, the recently graduated class of 2016 holds a special place in my heart - they were the first class that I helped recruit and see through to graduation. I met plenty of students on the road that first year, but two students stuck out so I wanted to highlight them in this post. Both attended high school in South Carolina and I met them in the first week of travel. I want to underscore that there isn't some formula for being memorable, both were just genuine with their questions and had a curiosity that felt natural.
Danielle Feerst '16 hails from Charleston and her name may sound familiar to you because she is the cover person of our summer 2016 Jumbo magazine. I remember meeting her during the school visit at her all girl’s high school. [Side note don't forget that the equivalent in college is "all women's college."] It was literally my second solo visit in the admissions counselor position. Danielle had questions and interest in pre-med, but also robotics. Then her application rolls in and she wrote about her robotics interest and sailing. That's pretty cool I thought. However, what really stuck out during the high school visit is how her peers in the room really respected her and listened when she talked. I honestly don't remember if she had an elected leadership position, but it was clear her peers looked to her for leadership.
Two days after my visit to Danielle's school I find myself in Columbia talking to a small group of students. During the conversation I realized that I was meeting Michael Zalesne '16 who, coincidentally, wrote me one of my first emails in the admissions counselor role. He had lots of questions in the email and meeting him made so much sense. He was/is the inquisitive person who wanted to make the most out of college. He had done tons of research on Tufts, and was trying to fill in the culture pieces of our campus.
These two visits were an introduction to the conversations I would have over the next few years with potential Tufts students on the road, and on campus. What each did well to get the most from meeting an admissions officer is that they took the time to check our offerings online and focused their questions on the culture of Tufts. Yes, you can get some of that online, but if you get the chance to meet an admissions officer try to ask the questions that aren't easily found in a Google search (i.e. don’t ask what study abroad options do you offer, or do you offer pre-med?).
Fast forward five years and they've both graduated. I'd be lying if I said I had any part in developing Danielle or Michael, but it has been pretty cool to be an outsider seeing the cool things they did on campus! Danielle started her own company and Michael was integral in getting the iGEM research group started and bringing the conference to campus! Kudos folks, I'm just glad to be a very small part of your life journey.