Views from the Admissions Desk
A New Take on Old Questions
by Evan Sprinkle
Greetings from Queens!
If I learned nothing else from the spring semester, I was reminded how much I enjoy the on-campus contact with students, their families, and counselors like yourself. Not having the ability to be together on campus and at conferences has led me to create an alternative way to stay in touch and provide updates on enrollment, along with what’s going on at Queens. I look forward to sharing this newsletter regularly and invite you to keep me updated on trends you are seeing with the students you are working with as well.
I grew up in a small Southern town and learned early on that there was an expected cadence to most conversations. Like clockwork, you could track a conversation with three questions: where are you from, what do you do, and where do you go to church. I understand the thought behind them, but as I graduated from college and met more people, I became disenchanted by the predictability these questions brought, almost like a checklist. Sure, my answers to these questions are important facts about who I am, but the quick responses I can give don’t define me as a person. In order to learn the stuff about someone that really matters, the value comes in the strength of questions that follow my answer to these three. And I think that’s a struggle many people have…how to ask powerful follow up questions to make a stronger connection.
This got me thinking about students and the questions we ask them about their high school experience. In a majority of their interactions with school counselors, admissions reps, and family members, I would bet they have to answer the same simple (and surface-y) questions on repeat. What are you involved in? Where are you going to college? What do you plan to major in? These roll off our tongues so quickly. But in asking these, are we really getting to who the student is? If not, how can we? When reviewing applications each year, the one area where I often see a lack of depth is in extracurricular activities and distinctions. So often these sections are just lists that contain the activity’s name, hours involved, and a short description. And by short descriptions, I mean students take that time to explain to our committee what softball is. Seriously, it happens more times than I am comfortable admitting.
This section of the app can add so much to a student’s profile even in a “normal” admissions cycle. Layer in the pandemic, where some traditional application components may have to be deemphasized and I’m screaming it from the Queens bell tower. Experiences in our life have significance when we reflect on them. My hope is that we, the influencers in a student’s college search, arm ourselves with more powerful questions to help students display more of their true selves in their application. What did you accomplish in these activities (individual or as a group)? What did you learn (could be a skill or something about themselves)? How has this activity impacted the future you see for yourself and/or your goals? I know my staff and I crave to know these things about our applicants. How powerful would it be to equip our students with the ability to reflect, make meaning, and understand themselves in a more significant way? I am committed to finding out.
WHAT'S GOING ON AT QUEENS?
- Our admissions counselors are hosting admission interviews this year. Students can sign up directly with their counselor for an interview between September 14 and December 1.
- We are excited about our new Engineering Physics major launching this fall. It’s already gaining traction among our current students.
- Our virtual open house program, Discover Queens, will be held on October 17, November 7 and 21.
- The Preyer Lecture Series continues its theme of "History for Our Time" with "Martin Luther King Jr. and a Black Usable Past" on Oct. 19. The live online lecture is open to the public.
- Please bookmark our new webpage for counselors, with key resources and information about Queens.