Admissions Problems

no, your kid isn't special at all actually...

THINGS WE WISH WE KNEW BEFORE BECOMING AN ADMISSION OFFICER

This fall has been a season of real reflection. The last time we made a comeback, it didn’t take ten minutes before some douche on Twitter criticized us for being part of the problem instead of the solution (again).

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We know, we know. You all love us. And it took several months for us to realize Admissions Problems needs to be a priority. Grousing about people brings us great joy and delight. Note: We learned the word “grousing” from an essay this fall. Grousing, FTW.

Let’s start over if we can. 

Hello, we’re Admissions Problems. Our life is cross between Fight Club and the Devil Wears Prada without the great salary, outlet for aggression, free clothes or support groups. What we’re left with is bitchy people, a heinous leadership team, IKEA furniture and a great deal of time spent bleary-eyed on airplanes. We like Hilton Diamond status, harsh application readers, proper grammar and bartenders that pour doubles without being prompted to do so.

Over the past few months, we’d still check messages here on the blog, and we’re continually fascinated by the number of college seniors considering a career in this field. Add to that their desire to seek advice from Admissions Problems. Hilarity ensues. 

For all the seniors out there thinking about a career in Admissions (and for those of us that just want to reflect), this is for you. 

THE TOP 5 THINGS WE WISH WE KNEW BEFORE BECOMING AN ADMISSION OFFICER

5. Taking (and passing) Statistics is key. Well, shit. Who knew so much of this career would be looking at reports and analyzing data? What was the conversation and yield rate in this territory last year? What if we meet 50% of their need versus 75%? Where is the EPS report telling us the out-of-state mobility rate for students in the 1250-1350 band who have a household income of $100,000+? WTF. There are absolutely days we sit in our office trying to predict what will happen in our territory like: 

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But all we can come up with is:

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Don’t say you weren’t warned.

4. How to properly fold a bed sheet will keep you sane.

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Ours is the one on the right. It took 45 minutes to fold it like that.

If you can’t fold a bed sheet, you can’t fold a table banner. And this skill is necessary and essential to your well-being during travel season. Believe us, your leadership team will say they are going to purchase you a polyester banner because it will resist stains, won’t wrinkle, blah, blah, blah. It’s really because those banners are dirt cheap, and it’s entertaining watching you try to fold it.

Imagine trying to steer a herd of small kittens hyped up on catnip into a pen with a large pack of snarling wolves protecting the gate. That’s what it’s like trying to fold a super-slippery cheap ass polyester table banner. As soon as you get one end folded, the other has already slipped off the table and is pooling on the floor. A nearby table of veteran admission counselors starts to snicker. Maybe one offers to help you. As if you aren’t sweaty enough, you feel the heat start to rise inside your jacket, and you instead choose to ball that piece of shit up, shove it into your travel bag and run out of the high school gym cursing obscenities under your breath at that inanimate pain-in-the-ass. After all, it’s not supposed to wrinkle.

And what happens the next day? You get to your visit, having let go of all the anger and frustration from the previous evening, pull out the banner and…

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3. Having parents who cook well will destroy you. We luckily had a mother who cooked almost every single night growing up. We’re not talking beanie-weenies and macaroni casserole. Legitimate meals. Restaurant-esque meals. Meals we bragged about for years to friends, significant others, anyone who would listen. College and the lack of edible food was an incredibly tough adjustment. When we graduated from college and took our first full-time job in the Admission Office, we thought we were home-free. Promised Land, We Are Home. Bring on the high quality meals.

Fast forward to our first travel season. Growing up, “soup and sandwich night” was not a thing in our house. So imagine our surprise when “soup and sandwich night” became a thing FOR THREE STRAIGHT MONTHS. We’d walk into a fair, see the familiar unclothed table with unmarked, white cardboard boxes and stark, unimaginative signs proclaiming that one stack was “Turkey” and the next was “Beef”.

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Those dreary signs weren’t lying - we had to adjust to two pieces of cold bread with some lukewarm magazine-thick turkey being how we defined “dinner”. Exciting days were when we received a tomato slice or lettuce. Even better days were when the tomato and lettuce were edible. We’re glad to show you the drug store receipts from our first travel season: anyone who invested in Proctor & Gambel (therefore indirectly investing in Pepto Bismol) probably noticed a little spike in their portfolio. You’re so welcome.

We love you, mother amoeba. But damn you for not taking us dumpster-diving for din-din at least a few times in our life.

2. A thick skin in necessary. You would think this is one of those inspirational jobs where you get to see the tangible results of your hard work. And, in some cases or at particular colleges or universities, you do. Getting there is the issue.

A job as an Admission Officer puts up with an inordinate amount of bullshit. Please see admissionsproblems.tumblr.com for more information and real life examples. There are days where you’ll want to cut perfect strangers and, conversely, bear-hug others that show you just a little bit of common decency. It’s a manic job.

Everyone going into this field needs to have the following pep talk provided to them by the most jaded person in their new office:

There are days you’ll want to quit. There are days when you’ll want to punch a parent, student, guidance counselor, rental car agent, hotel manager, or barista who fucked up your morning latte straight in the face. There are days when performing a root canal on yourself will sound more appealing than making idle conversation with anyone, let alone prospective students and their obnoxious parents, but put on a moderately happy face to get through it. You can always pretend you have to vomit unexpectedly if you need an easy out on a conversation/high school visit/college fair. You’ll have moments where your GPS will lead you for the umpteen time into an abandoned alley, and you’ll consider getting out of the car, setting up a tent and starting a new life in that alley. You’ll have moments where you simply can’t read another application without feeling the overwhelming need to weep for the future of this country and global community. You’ll consider cracking your personal checkbook open to cover a student’s financial gap just to get the most fucking annoying mother ever to stop calling you. Speaking of, never, under any circumstances, check your online bank account unless you ready to accept the reality that you have no money. At the end of the year, you will have poured your heart and soul into thousands of kids, and they will choose to go to other colleges. And you have to let them go. The only thing that keeps all of us hanging on is alcohol. So, here’s a bottle of Jack. Drink up, newbie.

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1. Take an effing ridiculously awesome driver’s license photo.

Do any of you realize how much that photo is used and displayed as an Admission Officer? Since our home state is comprised of a bunch of tight-wadded politicians that refuse to appropriate funding to government offices like the DMV, we still have the same driver’s license photo that we originally took at the ripe age of 16. Imagine going into a high school visit with your teen self - braces, Student Council tee shirt, making that goofy-happy “I JUST GOT MY LICENSE, BITCHES!!” face - plastered on a sticker. Then imagine prominently displaying that shit on your suit lapel.

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You embarrassing, vile, wicked piece of evil.

Depending on the number of high schools you visit that use Raptor or Lobby Monitor, you’ll collect dozens of these stickers. You’ll be required to wear them during your entire visit. Forget trying to put them on your bag, arm, pant leg, side of shoe, back of neck. We’ve tried it all to no avail. 

Take our advice: you better look like effing Beyoncé in that photo, or it’s time to start considering a new career.

Now, on to the real question at hand. We’re not committing to posting daily, but we’ll do as much as we can. We’ll start checking Twitter and Facebook again regularly as well. We are considering taking on an intern to assist. Inquire within. Here’s to Friday, amoebas.

Anonymous asked: I'm inwardly terrified of not being accepted by my dream schools this winter, I will grudgingly admit that I'm semi-glad you and your judgments are the face of this blog. Something I try to live by: not making an exception of myself. Your words are the slap back to reality that every teenager I know needs.

We said we wouldn’t post anything from high schoolers, but THIS.

Thanks for reading.

Anonymous asked: During our staff's annual meeting with the science and math department to get our 'elevator speech' for travel season, the dean of the department thanked us for putting up with the heaps of shit to find those few diamonds. He hadn't realized what we dealt with until discovering AP! Thank you, oh great amoeba!

It’s nice to know some deans get it. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Anonymous asked: You have no idea what Hell is. You think your job is Hell? Fuck no. Having an autoimmune disease is Hell. Visiting three doctors a week is Hell. Taking nine pills in the morning is Hell. Oh and the side effects! Having prednisone is HELL. You dont even know the meaning of the word. Stop pretending that your life is shit. Do you wake up every morning feeling like someone beat the living shit out of you? No? Do you have to go to high school too and take AP? No? Well then STOP FUCKING COMPLAINING!

Thank you so much, reader, for your thoughtful comment. Sadly, we do have a terrible, ailing, crippling, disabling disease, and…

On a side note, we sometimes take nine pills in the morning too. But we think the outcome for us is clearly more enjoyable. 

Best of luck in your upcoming AP exams this year. Maybe if you email College Board describing all your symptoms, they’ll just give you all 5s because your life is, you know, so hard. OH WAIT, College Board doesn’t give a shit because then they’d have to give a shit about everyone. 

Everyone’s life is hard. Just different kinds of hard. Grow the fuck up. 

Anonymous asked: "Please reply ASAP today, I am off and reviewing all paperwork. I appreciate your prompt help." Fuck these parents.

"Dear Parent, 

I don’t give a fuck if you’re off. And because you think your time is more valuable than mine, I won’t return your email for 3 days. Must have gotten lost in my inbox!! Sorry! But not really!

Yours in immediate denial,

AP”

Anonymous asked: No question, just a simple statement to any high school guidance counselors that read this. Please, use an online calendar for admissions counselors to schedule high school visits so we are not glued to our phones for three weeks. Most of you don't like talking to us on the phone anyway so it's a win, win.

OOPS

It was bound to happen. We were just so used to not having to blog anymore, and it’s really fallen off our priority list. Between travel, dealing with the return of students to school, preparing to leave our small homestead for two months… you get the picture. 

Nevertheless, we want to make it up to you. This won’t be consistent, and we’re still trying to find a good balance (or a free weekend to catch up on things). 

More coming your way tonight.

COLLEGE FAIR MUSINGS

Countdown to travel season: 11 days. Prepare yourselves.

As we have many new admission counselors among our profession preparing for their first travel season, we know one of the key questions all the newsies ask is “What do we wear to a college fair? Suit? Institutional polo and khakis?”

And the answer is…

Shredded shirt, red bra, blue tube top, fat roll, more tube top, patterned leggings, some sort of socks, and slouch boots. And by all means, pull your hair up off your neck to accent the fact that you’re pinky locked with the chick next to you. This is a purely professional look that says “I like colors and acting like I don’t care, so can you please point me in the direction of the Art Institute?”.

So, you’re sitting at your table at a fair thinking everything is going well. You’re meeting students, explaining your overly complicated travel materials produced by a marketing department that wouldn’t deign to ever carry their own brochure by the hundreds in a suitcase all over the damn country. You feel pretty good about yourself. As a reward, you allow yourself a restroom break. And then you see this post-hand washing.

WHAT. THE. FUCK. That’s like $100 worth of travel materials. And we still have sore biceps from lugging the boxes of those heavy pieces of shit into a college fair. And some little asshole throws them away? We’re throwing your application away, therefore your future as well.

Last up, not a college fair but feedback that provides us amusement nonetheless.

Oh, we’re so sorry. If you need more money towards TUITION, you should probably look into our merit scholarships. However, most of them require that you can SPELL TUITION. Just a starting point. 

Back on Monday with Monday Mournings. If we have time, we can get to some questions from the inbox… there are 4 questions already from this week. The snowball begins. 

EXCERPTS FROM ESSAYS

Essays really are the gem of this job. Forget the bottomless Panera cookies (“Yes, I WILL take a 99 cent bakery item!”). Those big flower cookies with the neon icing just don’t even compare with the goodness that can be uncovered from the depths of an application. Even if you eat 12 of them in a single afternoon.

Noteworthy of all three of our excerpts today: they came from the same student! Three excerpts, one nincompoop. 

"I’ve always believed to give kindness to people that deserve it. For example, I met my girlfriend’s parents earlier this year. First of all, I’ve never meet these people before, so they deserve my respect and kindness right there, also because they do not have to let me date their daughter. They are giving me permission to date her and through that they deserve my respect. The way I gauge who deserves respect and who doesn’t is simply one: if I haven’t meet them, they get kindness. Two: if they are a decent person who doesn’t bother me, they get kindness; simple as that."

Well, he definitely got the simple part right. Call us predictable, but we clearly do not subscribe to this young man’s philosophy that every person you’ve never met deserves kindness and respect. So, he already lost us there. But, if we know 18 year old boys (and WE DO), he more than likely wants to spread an incredibly thick layer of kindness and respect all over his girlfriend’s parents so they don’t realize he’s also trying to finger her behind the football bleachers every Friday night. Simple as that.

Next up from Romeo, a deeper look into his soul that makes him the lover of all things kind and respect. 

This next relationship I’m not so proud of but I am thankful of it. It was my first girlfriend _____. She was an interesting person and she made the relationship interesting and I’ll leave it at that. However she taught that there are people out there that will use you. She made me grow up and realize that life is complicated and the way you deal with it is how your life is defined.

"She made the relationship interesting and I’ll leave it at that."

Let’s review. Our essay writer was all:

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And his first girlfriend was all:

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Yeah, she used you. And messed with your head. Yeah it was complicated. Bro. If you’re going to write about losing your virginity, at least hook an admission counselor up with more details than “I’ll leave it at that”.

Last up, you know we had to pick out a poignant grammatical error.

Probably the most important relationship of my life will be with my friend _____. ______ is a lazy student to say the least. He does no homework at all. All he does at home is play on his computer, watch television and sleep. However, he still got good grades on testes because he paid attention in class.

He said “testes”. I’ll leave it at that.

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Back tomorrow for College Fair Musings. Those of you traveling should be sending us photos of fairs, info cards, scantily and inappropriately dressed students and more!

QUESTIONABLE QUESTIONS

First up today, an email full of questions…without any indication via punctuation that questions actually exist.

"Hi this is me Jamie again. . Enjoyed touring the campus this past spring break. In terms of sending this e-mail. I have been applying to possibly transfer there next fall. By all means other then the 40 dollar application fee and filling the application out is there anything else that needs to be done. As well what types of scholarships can I apply for. On top of that how can I get out of a hold of the speech teacher to talk about being apart of her speech team possibly."

By all means, we’re certainly not a career counselor by all means. But we do know that being a speech teacher is most certainly not in Jamie’s color wheel. Maybe it was the continuous use of prepositional phrases to end sentences. Maybe it was the flagrant disregard for proper grammar and correct usage of the following words: then, a hold, apart…

We all know how Admissions Problems feels about grammar. It’s an epidemic, people.

Does anyone else have the very realistic fear of what would happen to your personal safety should you connect a “student” like Jamie to a faculty member? We’re fairly certain all our ribosomes would be ripped apart (CORRECT USAGE), and we would leak cytoplasm all over ourselves.

Second up, a student trying to see where a little flattery gets him.

"Hello, I keep getting letters that you need my ACT score to make a decision on my application. I can’t afford to have my ACT score sent to an additional school at this moment. I took the ACT-Writing In February and recieved a composite score of 19. I truly want to attend (name of school) this fall. Thank you"

Again, dead giveaway on the reason you RECEIVED a 19 on the ACT Writing - that damn “i before e except after c” rule. Gets you everytime. Thank you for the flattery, but we’d really just prefer you complete your application. Then, we can deny you, and you fulfill your undeniable destiny in this process - padding our application numbers and making our acceptance rate look more selective. Kthanks. Bye.

Last up, we don’t even know.

I wanna go to your school. But im gonna go on my own terms. 1. I get first dibs at shower everday.2. I sit whereever i want whenever i want. 3. I will show up to class when I wanna be there. 4. If i find a faculty member attractive i get first dibs. 5. If im sleeping in class DONT WAKE ME!!! 6. Everyone must stand when i enter and leave the room. 7. If i find out ur sellin coke on school grounds i want in and i run the operation. 8. Every man will get left behind!!!!! There’s a hero in all of us. U ever seen college wit (insert student name)? Queer!!!!!
Sent from my iPhone

There wasn’t really a question in there, but we were left confused and bewildered just the same. Strange. Best of luck in your future career, young, sleepy, irresponsible one, but our institutions (all of them collectively) are not the place for you. We hear the University of Phoenix is looking for revolutionaries…

Why was it necessary to shout “Queer!!!” at the end? Now there’s a questionable question.

Back tomorrow with your favorite and ours, Excerpts from Essays.

MONDAY MOURNINGS

It’s been three months, and we’re back. We’re feeling particularly hopeful this Monday due in great part to the fact that travel season is around the corner. In late April, we would have wept openly when someone mentioned the words “Hampton Inn” or “Panera”, but fast-forward to present-day where we’ve spent all summer cooped up in our office with our “colleagues” listening to stories about each others’ summer vacations. We’re ready for Heavenly Beds, overspending our daily per diem and trying to discover new, clever ways to sneak alcohol into expense reports. 

To look forward to good things to come, we must look back to April. Here is a Monday Mourning story from a reader on Facebook…

After years in admissions, I’m used to dealing with obnoxious, overbearing parents who seem to be clueless to the fact that their habitual calling, insane requests and condescending natural is doing nothing but actually hurting their child’s application and making me resent their child for existing and applying to my college. However, I had a particular mother that took all these qualities to the next level…

…So I’m sitting in my office and I overhear a new, fresh-out-of-college-and-doesn’t-want-to-hurt-anyone’s-feelings counselor kindly explaining to someone over the phone that no, we do not offer SUNDAY tours, and she’s not sure if she could find a tour guide for such a request. Such requests make me LIVID when 1) the family is within a 3 hour drive of the school, 2) their student is a junior. I mouthed to her to transfer the call to me so I could kindly set the caller straight.

BIG MISTAKE. First of all, the mother attempted to make me feel bad because I did not want to humor her very “reasonable” request. I explained that it was APRIL (aka admissions hell month), and the Sunday she was requesting was sandwiched between two campus admissions events AND finals week. This, however, is NOT what made this a truly crazy call. 

She then, being curious about my institution, asked me how many HETEROSEXUAL MEN WE HAD ON CAMPUS. She explained “well, it’s just that we have visited a lot of art schools, and all the men on campus appear to be gay, and oh of course that’s fine we just want make sure there are other men on campus like my son, you know, straight.” It’s rare that I’m speechless in admissions—it’s our job to answer stupid questions and pretend they are not STUPID, but I audibly scoffed because I was truly speechless. I wanted to say “well did you see guys screwing in the quad at these art schools or just take a survey on your campus tour? And as for the breeders on our campus, well, they all start ‘straight’”…..

SO advice to parents, in case you were unaware, it’s fine to ask a college about their LGBTQ population on campus, particularly if your child is in that population and you want to ensure this a welcoming environment. It is NOT okay to ask if there are other straight kids like your special snowflake—it’s like asking if there are other white kids for my white kid to form a klan with. His mother is going to be destroyed when he brings his boyfriend home for thanksgiving….


We couldn’t have insulted or mocked parents better ourselves. And with that, we’re back where we left off. Still being amazed by parents’ audacity and lack of social grace (or boundaries). It’s a never-ending cycle, really. 

Back tomorrow with Questionable Questions. Hit us up on the Facebook page, here on the blog or on Twitter with your best ones from this summer.