We Call it "Travel Season"...September 10, 2013
Joel braves the mist at Niagara Falls during a trip to New York.
This week starts the first full week of fall travel for many of my colleagues here in the Office of Admissions. The rest of us will start hitting the road very soon. Between now and the first week of November, our staff of 12 admission officers will fan out across the country and around the world. We’ll visit (by my count, anyway) 36 states and 29 foreign countries, traveling to places as far away as India and as close by as our hometown of Claremont. We’ll check in at more than 500 high schools and spend many long, lonely days in our rental cars.
So why do we do it? It’s certainly not for the hotel points and airline miles, though those do help a bit (indeed, if you ever need to make small talk with an admission officer, just ask us about our hotel loyalty program of choice). Instead, I think all of my colleagues would agree that it gives us a chance to improve our knowledge of the territories we read. Like many admission offices, each officer here generally reads all the applications from a collection of states and areas. For example, I read all the applications from New York and from a small slice of western Los Angeles County, along with Southeast Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. It’s my responsibility, then, to know the high schools in those areas as well as I can. You can find out who covers your particular high school on our Meet Us page.
Visiting those places (well, visiting New York and LA—I don’t often get a chance to travel abroad for the office) helps me understand those schools a bit better. For one thing, it gives me an opportunity to connect with school counselors. Those few minutes we get to spend with your counselors let me talk to them about the kinds of trends we’re seeing in our work and about what’s happening in high schools these days. That knowledge is helpful when I’m trying to understand the curricular choices a student has made when I’m reading his or her application in February, or when I’m trying to contextualize a particular extracurricular activity. Traveling to another city also gives me a tiny bit of insight into what it’s like to be from a particular place. It can’t match the knowledge that a native has, but I do think it informs my perspective as an admission officer a bit. Selfishly, I enjoy doing a little sightseeing on the road, too. One fall’s visits to Buffalo gave me a chance to see Niagara Falls, which was pretty cool.
Most importantly, our time on the road this fall gives us a chance to meet you. Those appointments we make at high schools let us sit face to face with prospective students to talk a bit about Pomona and to answer the questions you may have. The same goes for the college fairs we attend: we like being able to help you understand this institution a little better. So if you see one of us at a school visit or at a fair this fall, please don’t hesitate to ask us just about anything. I’m often surprised that more students don’t do this. If you’re sitting in a room with an admission officer (and I mean this for all admission officers, not just those at Pomona), use that time to your advantage. If you want to understand how the sausage is made vis-à-vis college admissions, who better to ask? If you’ve heard a rumor about what colleges “like” and “don’t like” to see in an application, who better to ask? If you’d like some clarification on a supplemental essay topic, who better to ask?
So if you see one of us wandering through your high school with our big blue name badges on, don’t hesitate to ask us whatever you’d like to know.
We welcome responses to stories on the Pomona College Web. Please respect the opinions of others who may disagree with you. If you notice an objectionable comment (see our commenting policy), please flag it to bring it to our attention.