College Counseling
Matriculation List

From the Executive Director of College Counseling: Questions and admissions

For so many of our seniors, this time of year represents a moment in the educational journey when they showcase their many accomplishments with colleges and universities. From any rational perspective, it seems absurd that we attempt to reduce years of extraordinary moments and individual accomplishments to just a couple of essays, a few short responses, and some recommendations. Even so, over the past few months, I have watched our seniors approach this process with a seriousness and sense of purpose that more than meets the moment. The essays that I have previewed have been nothing short of brilliant. With hard work and courage, a few tears, some chocolate (lots of chocolate, actually!), and always a bit of humor, the Class of 2023 has arrived at the “hit submit” moment in this wonderful educational journey. I am so very proud of each of our RE seniors.
So what comes next? Waiting … oh the waiting – one of the hardest parts of the process. As someone who experienced the other side of this process, I can assure you that the time taken to review applications is time well spent. Each application receives a careful first review. If the candidate has the academic record to be successful (we often estimated that approximately 80 percent of all applicants could be successful), then the application proceeds through multiple rounds of review, often with different sets of eyes at each stage. Each round of review “mines” the application for unique features that help to tell the individual story of each admission candidate until the application reaches committee.  

As I write this evening and read the messages from students announcing their submissions of early decision applications, I am reminded of a ritual that has been part of the rhythm of my work for more than two decades – pulling a well-worn book from my office shelf to read an enduring passage. As I have shared with some of you in conversation, the book Questions and Admissions: Reflections on 100,000 Admissions Decisions at Stanford by former Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Jean Fetter, is one of my favorites. I first read the book as a young admissions officer and then returned to it year after year just before we started early decision selection at Cornell. In her book, Fetter never presumes to speak for every admissions officer, nor does she attempt to simplify the admissions process. Instead, Fetter offers personal insights that reveal the rich complexities that shape the work of an admission officer and the decisions made. One particular passage helped me prepare for what was always a season of very difficult decisions: "How does, and how should, the heart rule the head in such decisions. Some decisions came from the heart; others were definitely from the head … I don’t think that another seven years in the job would have made me more consistent on these very difficult decisions, and one tries to accept the inevitable fallibility of a subjective process."

Like St. Augustine’s confessions, Fetter’s admissions offer the reader an opportunity to share in the reflections on past decisions in hopes that we might find meaning. It reminded me that our admissions decisions were an attempt to select a community of scholars that reflected the lofty values of our institution, but were limited by the number of residence hall beds available. It is worth keeping this in mind as our seniors await what sometimes feels like a referendum on their entire lives to this point. It is not that. This is a process with humanity on every side, seniors working hard to show their best selves and admission officers trying to make decisions that are good for their institutions, and also right and fair. My hope has always been that the result of this dance is that all seniors end up at the schools that most appreciates their special gifts and talents, and will offer them the best opportunity to grow and thrive.

I conclude with a hearty congratulations to the Class of 2023 for years of excellence and astonishingly hard work. Let us celebrate the achievements of our seniors as they meet their application deadlines, and give them a well-deserved bit of space to recover from the process. In this very human enterprise, the educational journey endures, and our students will flourish.

Looking ahead, we will be meeting with Junior Parents on November 9 and stay tuned for more workshops from our financial aid series.
Jason Locke
Executive Director of College Counseling
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.