Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the road again

Note: I wrote this more than a week ago on my way to New York City.

It’s fall and a Sunday so I must be going somewhere. Back from spending several weeks in Asia last month and my travel last week on the West Coast, today I’m bound for New York City for high school visits in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Though I haven’t visited schools in New York in several years, this is familiar ground and I’ve spent many a recruitment trip in the City in the past. The admission staff is similarly dispersed at this time of the year, searching for adventurous and talented students throughout the country and the world. I’m looking forward to seeing who Grinnell attracts this year.

Why do I travel this way? With the internet providing nearly unlimited access to information - the ability to connect with current students, faculty, and alumni through email, Facebook and discussion boards, virtual tours, Flicker shows and so on – it would be easy to assume the high school visit is a relic and no longer necessary with the widespread dissemination of digital age information. Yet there is something advantageous in meeting students in person, walking through a school’s hallways, taking a bite in the cafeteria, and talking with the high school counselors. Something tangible, even memorable, that provides helpful context during the long days and nights of file review in the winter. Admission is ultimately a human process and the more I and the admission staff understand the students applying to Grinnell, where they come from and what their environments contain, the more informed our decisions will be.

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