College Admission Professionals Provide an Inside Look at the Process

A panel discussion and student workshop offer invaluable insight.
How to get a true insider's look into the college admission process? Invite the actual gatekeepers to campus to meet with students and parents. Yesterday, five university admission professionals traveled to GPS for a two-part interactive experience for our juniors and their families. On campus were Heath Einstein, Dean of Admission at Texas Christian University; Andrea Felder, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Admissions at American University; Tyler Peterson, Executive Director of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Scholarships at The University of Alabama at Birmingham; Sally Richmond, Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid at Washington & Lee University; and J. Carey Thompson, Vice President of Enrollment and Educational Services at Gettysburg College. 

A Panel Discussion for Students and Parents
In the evening, GPS students were joined by their parents and other guests in Frierson Theatre for a panel Q&A, moderated by Amelia Mann, GPS Interim Director of College Counseling. 

The admission panel took the stage in Frierson Theatre to answer questions prepared by Mann and then fielded questions from the audience. Touching on everything from virtual opportunities to testing, standing out, and more, the 90-minute session helped to give guests a better perspective on the ever-changing landscape of the college application and enrollment process.

When asked about shifts that have taken place in recent years, Richmond touched on the virtual landscape. While students and families can access so much more information about schools today than ever before, thanks to options like virtual tours and Zoom interviews, she explained, “The introspective work that will make a really successful and satisfying college search process should not be skipped. What matters to you? How do you learn best? What are the non-negotiables that you have to have—these need to be things you’re still prioritizing.” 

The responses from all panelists helped both students and parents to better understand not only the admission strategy but also to see admission professionals as real people, doing their best to create a class that will benefit the student experience as well as the university. 

Felder explained, “One thing that has not changed about the college landscape is the people who care about you as applicants, as students who are looking at our institutions, trying to discover what may make our institution unique. There are people behind the desk actually reading your applications. We care about the students who take the time to apply to our institutions and are here to support you through the process.”

Our Students Evaluate Four Students’ Applications
This morning, the junior class reconnected with our visitors for a case study, where they were tasked with reviewing the applications of four students applying to a fictitious university. The girls, who prepared for the session by reviewing each application on their own, had to determine from the profiles, which two students would be accepted, who would be waitlisted, and who would be declined. The juniors were divided into four groups, with each group assigned a college admission professional as proctor.

Each group approached the task a bit differently, some starting with initial votes before heading into more thorough discussions defending their choices and a revote at the end, while others discussed each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses before a conclusive vote at the end. The groups reconvened in Caldwell Commons after decisions had been made and compared outcomes: Nearly all choices were unanimous, with just one group in disagreement about an acceptance.

From there, students discussed their choices, and Mann emphasized that each student should remember this moment—the moment of fighting for a particular student—when she’s applying to schools next year. “There are real people reading your applications, and they just want to get to know you and hear your story. They are trying to find reasons to admit you,” she said.

A Q&A with Incoming Director of College Counseling Andrew Reich
Following the workshop discussion, incoming Director of College Counseling Andrew Reich spoke to the Class of 2023, emphasizing his commitment to the class and to GPS. Reich will officially begin his tenure at GPS on July 1. 

He invited members of the class to ask him any questions they had, and while a few students opted to ask about the college process, many wanted to know more personal facts. (We found out he has two dogs, played football and participated in track and field in college, and has never heard of poppyseed chicken.)

Over the next several weeks, he will meet with students in person and via Zoom in an effort to get to know them so he can be as helpful as possible in their college searches.