For members of the admissions review committees, the last few weeks of March are among the busiest of the year. And with a record 20,050 applications received this year, committee members have more work on their hands than ever before.
Admissions committees are responsible for reading and reviewing a percentage of undergraduate applications.
“Only the most compelling students get sent to committee,” Robert O’Rourke, assistant director of undergraduate admissions said.
Each of these committees includes a senior member from the admissions office, a school dean, a school faculty member and a current student in that school. Marilyn McMorrow, a professor in the School of Foreign Service, has been a part of the SFS admissions committee for about five years.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It is one of the most worthwhile things I do as a faculty member. It is a very labor-intensive process, but I believe it is a very important way to contribute to the school.”
With a strict April 1 deadline for the distribution of decision letters, members of the admissions committee work many hours on the applications, occasionally working on weekends to ensure they stay on schedule. The admissions office hopes to mail out their decisions by March 28 or 29 in order to make the traditional April 1 deadline, which falls on a Sunday this year. Although letters are not mailed out until the end of March, the committee sets an internal deadline for final decisions weeks ahead of that.
Melissa Costanzi, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions and a member of the admissions committee for Georgetown College, said that there is an enormous amount of work involved in reviewing the applications.
“It takes us a long time to make our decisions, but we want to make sure we make the right ones,” she said.
McMorrow said that she spends about 20 minutes on each application.
“I go over each student’s file very carefully because I know that student worked for a long time putting it together and I want to be fair to the students who happen to be towards the bottom of my pile of applications,” she said.
Assistant Director of Admissions Colleen Miltenberg added that admissions officers become especially dependent on one another during the final month before decisions are sent out.
“While it becomes intense, it is also very much a collaborative environment — we couldn’t get it done without each other,” she said. “Each person’s role is critical.”
Currently, the admissions committee is transitioning into the final stages of the review process, which involves looking at the students marked for extra consideration, such as legacies, students of employees and faculty, athletic recruits and first-generation college students.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon wrote in an email that while the office has already made most application decisions, their job is far from complete.
“The work of selecting the class is nearly done, and we are well underway preparing for the aftermath, which will lead to the month of April, which is a very busy time trying to essentially ‘yield’ the students we have now accepted,” he wrote.