Notes from the underground…

…of admissions.

This summer, I am working at Middlebury as an Admissions Intern. Now what exactly does this entail? I’m not entirely sure but, thus far, it has consisted of a lot of filing, a lot of inputting data into computers, and a lot of walking (two guided tours a day, what?)

To retain my sanity, I have found myself scouring information request sheets, files, and actual prospective students for anything relatively zany, off-the-wall, or interesting to laugh at or store in my memory for later conversation with my fellow summer employees as we discuss our (not-so-lazy) summer days to each other around the proverbial water-cooler which is the Battell double.

I thought it might be interesting to share tidbits of interesting things I discover in the dark underbelly of Admissions every week both to warn prospective students of what not to do and to allow current Midd students to reflect on how ridiculous they probably were when applying to colleges.

1. is not an appropriate email address to use for College Admissions (or ever really)

In the past few weeks, I have been shocked by the number of truly ridiculous emails that prospective students write down on their information-request and tour-guide evaluation forms. When I was applying to colleges, I had a very simple email address ( which I used for all of my correspondence. Someone long ago had warned me to create something simple and professional because somebody somewhere in ____ College’s Admissions Office would be seeing my email account. Little did I know that that person would, eventually, be me.

It’s not that I care about what your email address is, but seriously? How hard is it to come up with something even slightly mature? I guess very considering the following examples of email addresses I have seen thus far:

  • (what exactly makes someone a funky chipmunk? Are chipmunks funky?)
  • (um…what?)
  • (unless you’re truly a super star, let’s stick with brianna88)
  • (although I do applaud her creative spelling of the word ‘sexy’)
  • (nice use of subtle subliminal messaging to admissions counselors)
  • and my all time favorite:

2. Mothers, you need to take a chill pill

This is probably the oldest college-admissions-related issue in the book: pushy moms aggressively attacking tour guides and admissions counselors for information and/or bragging extensively about their offspring. We get it, your kids are wonderful, intelligent, and will one day probably save the world. But let them tell us that. There is nothing more annoying than a parent who just doesn’t get it.

That is why, when I was applying to colleges, I always told my parents to remain quiet (although not always in the nicest of ways) on tours. I didn’t want them, or myself, to become ‘that family’ on the college tour who asks too many pointless questions aimed at making their child look fantastically amazing. I knew then, as I know now, that my parents (and most parents you will find on tours) were genuinely interested in finding out as much information as they could about the various colleges that they visited, but I always told them that the tour guide would take care of giving us all the information we needed. Now that I am a tour guide, I still hold fast to that belief: we are tour guides for a reason, people!

Nevertheless, I have experienced a lot of pushy moms. Some of my favorites include…

  • A mother from Virginia who was forcing her twin daughters to apply to all the same schools. She claimed that college admissions would ‘eat the twin thing up,’ at which point both of her daugthers rolled their eyes. And we thought OctoMom was bad.
  • One mother from a small town in New England who spent 20 minutes talking to me about all the awards her daugther had received for some scientific research she had done. I wasn’t even giving a tour, nor had I asked any questions that would prompt her to respond in that way (the conversation went along something like “Hello, my name is Cody and I’m from Texas. Where is your daughter from?” “We’re from ___ and she’s very interested in science…). Let the applicaton (or the applicant) speak for itself.
  • One mother who, on a small tour where she and her daughter were the only ones attending, bragged about how the Ivies had been courting her squash playing child for months, at which point I asked the daughter if she was interested in attending an ivy league school. She responded that she preferred a small liberal-arts environment, but that her parents wanted her to go ivy. I predict therapy with a side of familial attachment issues in the future.

And I thought that I came from a crazy family.

Until the next mother verbally attacks me,



2 Responses

  1. Tip on dealing with parents during the tour: Suggest all the students come to the front with their parents bringing up the rear. They can brag to their hearts content to other parents (or ignored by them) and the students are actually near the front where they can ask the questions they want to. Also, maybe come up with a student only Q&A about the school keeping their parents out of the room and giving them an opportunity to ask the questions about the social and academic life at Midd.

    I really hated the info sessions where some parent would raise their hand to ask a question about standardized test scores only to say, “Little Johnny has a 36 ACT and 780’s on all their SAT tests… are these good enough for this school?” Ugh.

  2. […] these seniors are hitting at the big kahuna question for prospective students and their eager parents: why even attend a liberal arts […]

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