Admission Team Works From Home, Welcomes Virtual Connections

Admission team working from home
Admission team member Jacob Elliott enjoys plenty of coffee as he meets virtually with Future Hornets.

It’s been over a month since K’s Office of Admission team has started working remotely; employees have been busy helping students, talking to parents and setting up the best virtual visit experience possible. Just like everyone else, K’s admission counselors have been adjusting to this new normal.

Jacob Elliott, one of the newest admission counselors who works with students from the Southwest U.S., as well as students from Lansing and the Thumb of Michigan, has been crafting his own way of life. “I wake up and immediately get a cup of coffee,” Elliott said. “Nothing has changed on that front — except the size of the coffee cup.” From there, he does his best to deal with his newest coworker, 10-month-old Freddy the cat, whose idea of work time looks an awful lot like play time. When work is done, Elliott is in a desperate scramble to get through the growing pile of unread books on his shelves. “If you need a book recommendation at this point, I’m your guy!”

Freddy Elliott serves as Jacob’s work-from-home coworker.

Early in his remote work process, Elliot realized that physical distance didn’t have to mean complete social distance — social media distance, that is! “I chat with my friends now more than ever,” Elliott said. “I’m all over FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat! I’ve learned if you want to see other people, you still can. I’ve even made a few new friends while we’ve all been craving human interaction!”

While the world is keeping its distance, people are still finding ways to care for and support one another. K’s counselors are no different, Elliott said. “We’ve just extended our deposit deadline to June 1; anyone who is still considering K or is  not sure where they might be headed next year should definitely reach out! We are more than willing to help, even if that means just listening to you and talking through your options.”

K Admission is Committed to Flexibility

Suzanne Lepley and two students discuss flexible admission deadlines
Director of Admission Suzanne Lepley stands with two current K students

Dear Future Hornets,

Over the past several weeks, our admission team has been impressed by the resiliency of our K community and our applicants. For me, these uncertain times have highlighted the strength and compassion of our community, and repeatedly demonstrated what I’ve always told prospective students: At K, we take care of each other. Consequently, we’re extending the same compassion to you, our Future Hornets. As you move through the application process, please know that we’re committed to the following:

  • Grace for decision deadlines. Our decision deadline is still May 1. However, if you have any concerns about meeting this deadline, please communicate with your admission counselor.
  • Financial aid for special circumstances. If your family’s financial situation should change at any time, please know that K’s financial aid appeals process exists for this purpose.
  • Enrollment deposit flexibility. If you have special financial concerns regarding enrollment deposits, please contact your admission counselor to arrange a reduced-cost deposit. Enrollment deposits are applied to your first-semester bill; should you need to defer enrollment, you can apply your deposit to a future term.
  • Understanding toward credit/no credit grades. We’re happy to accept transcripts that document the grades awarded by your high school. We know that many high schools are changing to pass/fail or credit/no credit assessments, while others are actively considering their options.
  • Case-by-case approach to AP, IB and dual enrollment credit. Our policy toward evaluating credit for these exams has not changed; we’re looking into equitable solutions for all students. As soon as we learn more about changes to these exams, we’ll get in touch with you with more details about our approach.
  • Celebrating our test optional policy. We’ve been proudly test optional since 2015. If taking the SAT or ACT is not feasible for you, we understand.

In these times of uncertainty, I know that this K community is where I want to be. I hope you’ll join us too.

Suzanne Lepley

Visits Take Virtual Turn; Application Process Continues

Virtual Campus Tours Suzanne Lepley
Kalamazoo College Director of Admission Suzanne Lepley discusses virtual options for campus tours.

As the Director of Admission at Kalamazoo College, I like to remind prospective students that they’re in the driver’s seat of the admission process. It’s a metaphor that works, because a lot of the time, K’s admission counselors are along for the ride; we enjoy pointing out the sights, sounds and highlights of our beautiful campus as prospective students begin to see themselves at K. When we learn that a student has a particular educational or extracurricular interest, we discuss the K-Plan and help them map where that journey can take them.

Recently, students and families may feel like they’re running out of road. COVID-19 developments may cause some uncertainty about the future of K’s admission processes. Although campus is closed to visitors, I’m thrilled to report that each application is still receiving our full attention. We’re also moving ahead, looking forward to enrolling the class of 2024 and continuing to provide the best possible visit experiences for Future Hornets. Here are a few options we’ve put into place:

  • Video chats: Admission counselors are fully prepared to schedule FaceTime, Zoom or Skype chats to connect with students. Counselors can also be contacted for phone, text or email conversations. We’re still excited to tell you all about K.
  • Virtual tours: The campus visit is an integral part of the college decision process; you can explore our campus through a combination of videos, stills and 360-degree images. We encourage families to enjoy the virtual tour the way they would an in-person tour — together!
  • Ask a student: We know that our visitors love talking to current students about their K experiences. These interactions offer an authentic and realistic perspective on life at K. You can reach out through email to ask questions or schedule phone calls, texts or video chats.

We’re taking a detour from the usual admission process this year and working on more virtual visit opportunities that will allow prospective students to experience the depth and breadth of the K visit experience while remaining safe and healthy. We’re confident that K is a great destination, and we’re excited to meet our class of 2024.

Conquering the College Admission Essay

Sometimes the word “essay” conjures up images of a five-sentence, five-paragraph response to a straightforward question. Instead, think of this part of the application as a story you tell about yourself that A) shows the College how well you write, and B) gives the College insight into your character beyond what the rest of the application indicates about you. The essay prompts, then, are not “gotcha” questions, but an opportunity to reveal parts of your character and identity that we can’t see anywhere else.

Here are some ideas to consider as you select your story and begin writing:

Kalamazoo College Admission Counselor Marcus Johnson
Marcus Johnson        Assistant Director of Admission

Don’t use a thesaurus. This is not the vocabulary section of a standardized test; you do not need to impress us with your word bank. Stuffy, ten-dollar words often cover up the real identity behind the essay writer. Besides, if you don’t use that kind of vocabulary in your regular speech, adding words that you don’t normally use just to impress the College will make you sound incredibly inauthentic.

Shock and awe alone won’t sell your story. Essays that recap all the awesome stuff on your list of extracurricular activities don’t show the College how awesome you are. Essays that reveal a significant tragic life experience may make your application reader feel incredibly empathetic toward you, but that doesn’t necessarily tell that reader who you are.

Avoid generalized statements/lessons/definitions. “Webster’s dictionary defines ____ as…” is a common beginning for application essays. It’s been done before, it’s not particularly interesting, and it’s not as helpful as you might think. “Some/many people experience (general experience),” etc. is not only a weak, inaccurate, and offensive way to start an essay, it begins your story with the focus on abstract general society, when the focus should be on you.

Your identity makes a story interesting. Let’s assume you want to write about being an athlete. Do you live in a small town where the entire community knows your name and comes out to see you play? Did you have to convince your parents that the sport you play matters? Does your team always make it to state championship so there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform well, or do you never make it to playoffs, so your team is an underdog in your region? What about your racial identity, gender, sexual orientation, faith, economic status? Does that impact what it’s like to be an athlete at your school? There is no one-sentence answer to any of these questions; you have to tell a story that answers these questions.

Proofread, and get someone else to read your writing. The College definitely values story over grammar, but a poorly written essay suggests that you didn’t put a lot of time into writing. Write your draft early, and get it into the hands of someone who can give you honest feedback. Do they understand what the story is? Do you come across as an honest writer? Do they see spelling errors?

Best of luck to you in your essay writing, and in your college search!

Marcus Johnson, Assistant Director of Admission