Southern Regional Forum Closes with Panel of College Admission Officers
Southern Regional Forum Closes with Panel of College Admission OfficersJose Rios, Director, Communications
Education professionals from all over the College Board’s southern region—comprised of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia—gathered this past week at the 2017 regional forum to learn best practices, connect with colleagues, and explore the key issues in education.
A panel of college admission officers closed the conference. The esteemed panel, with a combined 125 years of experience, featured:
- Barbara Polk, deputy director of undergraduate admissions, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- Ingrid Hayes, vice president for enrollment management, Spelman College
- Kerr C. Ramsay III, associate vice president for admissions, High Point University
- Tim Amyx, director of admissions & registrar, Volunteer State Community College
Below are some highlights from their conversation. Remarks have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What do admissions officers look for during the review process?
Barbara Polk: We want to get to know the students as individuals, as best we can. The tricky or challenging part is when you have to then take their stories, in some cases from various institutions, and put them into a competitive decision process. And that’s hard to do, because if it’s a holistic review, then you don’t just point to a GPA or a test score and say, ‘If you had 10 points higher here, or if you have GPA had been this instead of that…’ It’s the whole story.
Q: Should students be worried about referencing personal stories in their essay?
Ingrid Hayes: As long as the information they’re sharing helps us to understand their journey and their passion for what they do, that is absolutely something that they can share. That’s really what’s important—for students to give that extra coloring, to tell us why this thing was important, why that other thing was important, and to share it with the admission committee. We want to understand their stories. We all want to cheer for our students.
Q: Is experiential education a good way to get around the idea of mere “credit-counting”? Is it too difficult for students to take on, or for higher ed institutions to implement?
Kerr C. Ramsay III: It’s our responsibility to go beyond what we think students can do. I think experiential learning helps students get beyond “credit-counting” or just “information.” And I think we all know as educators that when you really understand something, you’re able to then teach it. That’s the best sign that you understand a concept, when you’re able to share it with someone else in a way that they can understand it. Imagine asking an athlete to only practice all the time and never play a game. We would never do that. But we ask our students to do that all the time in academics, and we think that it’s a bit of a faulty mindset. We need to give our students chance to try and apply their learning each week.
Q: What other higher education options are out there for students?
Tim Amyx: Let me encourage you to learn about the activity at your community colleges nearby. If you really care about your students, then sometimes you have to have the conversation when you say, “You know what? What you’re facing is overwhelming, and you might be better off taking a baby step, but that baby step doesn’t mean that it’s a bad step.” My biggest retention problem is that the students get to the community college and they find out that it’s hard, that we actually have academic rigor. So, if you’re at a four-year school or you’re K-12 counselors, I encourage you to take the time to find out about all of your students’ higher education options. You may find that there’s a hidden gem in your backyard.