By Stacey Milton
Although campus is still relatively quiet, and classes won’t begin for another week, there is a lot of activity happening here in the BU Admissions office. Over the next couple months, our staff will read and review over 40,000 applications for the Class of 2016. So how do we do it?
Well, there is a lot of coffee involved (and luckily, a Starbucks and a Panera across the street). This time of year, we spend most every day reading applications, sometimes in the office; sometimes at home (which makes my cat very happy). In fact, there’s a pretty good chance your application could be initially reviewed by someone sitting at home in their pajamas!
When we receive an application from the Common App, it is uploaded into our system, where it is then matched with all other required forms – recommendation letters, transcripts, school reports – and any test scores that we may have received. Eventually, these are all matched together with a student’s name, and a University ID is issued to the file.
Once a file is complete, it enters our online reading system so that we can begin the review process. As you may already know, BU Admissions reads regionally, and so we each tend to focus on our own state, or states, initially. I work specifically with PA and DE, and I’m thrilled to see the names of students that I remember meeting this past fall while visiting high schools in my region. We also read for all nine undergraduate schools and colleges.
After an initial review has been completed, a few things can happen. A decision may be recommended and the file will be looked at in committee, where several members of the board of admissions will discuss the applicant and come to a final decision. Or, if an applicant is clearly a strong candidate for admission, we may be able to make a final decision and move along to the next. With each file we review, we also may be considering an applicant for a scholarship or our highly selective Kilachand Honors College. Applicants to our College of Fine Arts receive an initial academic review and are also discussed in committee once an artistic evaluation (based on a portfolio or audition) is completed.
The process of reviewing applications is often referred to as an “art, rather than a science.” This is especially true for BU Admissions, where our applicant pool is predominantly made up of academically impressive students. Thus, we are attempting to build a class of individuals who will not only thrive as BU students, but who will truly enjoy their experience, and who really want to be here. We are thinking, “Would this student contribute to the classroom discussion?” or “Would they get involved with an a cappella group, the Community Service Center, or take advantage of research opportunities?” and one of my favorites, “Would you want this student as your roommate?”
Believe it or not, it’s also a lot of fun, which makes the long days and slight eye twitch bearable. My colleagues and I look forward to reading many, many more applications over the next couple months as we complete the class. And we all look forward to April, when we get to leave our offices, rejoin the world and meet all of the wonderful students who have been offered a place in BU’s Class of 2016!