Friday, March 26, 2010

An Open Letter to UD Faculty

First off, I want to thank many of you who wrote letters of recommendation on behalf of our seniors. I can't tell you how many admission officers have singled many of you out as examples of the "best of the best" letters. Nuanced, honest, and anecdotal -- your letters really do positively influence the decisions that colleges make on our students. And thus far, I'll have you know, the majority of responses from colleges have been positive. Our kids are hearing a resounding "Yes!" from the majority of the schools they are applying to. Take Washington University in St. Louis, for example. Their acceptance rate hovers around 17%. This year, during their most competitive admission pool in history, Wash U admitted 5 of our 8 applicants. That's a tremendous testimony not only to our seniors but also to your talent, passion, and commitment to excellence as teachers.

Having said this, there are still a large bag of admission letters en route to our seniors. Like in years past, it will certainly be a mixed bag. There will be plenty of "Yes" letters; there will be a smattering of "No" letters as well. I say this to you because between now and April 1st you might want to keep an eye out for seniors who might need a word of comfort or encouragement. Don't be surprised if a handful skip a class or two, fail to submit homework, or bomb a quiz. It's important then that we are a community that showcases sympathy and understanding, while at the same time holding our kids to our standards. It's a tough tension to live in - I understand. And I find it is always a challenge this time of year to step into each student's world and just be present with them. To rejoice with those who rejoice. To weep with those who weep.

Finally, as seniors begin to weigh college options, please be sensitive to what you say if and when they ask for your advice. Your words carry immense weight. I learned the hard way that a comment as benign as "I"m surprised you would go to OU over X prestigious school" did more psychic damage to the student than I ever intended. It's only when I took this job that I discovered how every college choice a family (not just student) makes involves a complicated mass underneath, like an iceberg. In today's economic climate, in particular, I anticipate we will see more of our families place a premium on affordability and thus choose colleges that will meet that family need. So please be sensitive to all that is buried just beneath the surface with our seniors when it comes to their final college choice.

Thanks for all you do to help our kid's succeed both in college admissions and well beyond!