Georgetown’s faculty of big-name policymakers and public intellectuals has long been an asset in the increasingly competitive game of college admissions.
Now these academic heavyweights are becoming involved in the process beyond their work in the classroom, reviewing applications and communicating with accepted students in an effort to increase yield rates and interest in the Hilltop.
“The faculty is involved in the process from the beginning,” Lia Glavin, senior assistant director for Undergraduate Admissions and Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program advisor, said. “Our admissions programs show that we have such strong faculty-student interaction.”
Though the faculty and the admissions department traditionally occupy separate spheres in academia, the university is now using its professors to compete with other universities in recruiting talented applicants.
According to Glavin, a greater focus has recently been placed on actual interaction between prospective students and faculty.
Students whose essays proved particularly memorable to admissions committee faculty receive personalized emails from the professors. In smaller, more close-knit departments like the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, each accepted student is personally contacted by a faculty member.
The admissions office also coordinates online chats for each school, allowing prospective students to interact with professors whose expertise falls within areas of their own interest.
Anthony Arend (SFS ’80) government professor and director of the Masters in Foreign Sevice program, has long been involved with this program.
“It’s so much fun to be able to communicate to incoming students what my experiences have been and what their experience is going to be,” Arend said. “I want to show them the excitement and dynamism of Georgetown.”
Arend routinely meets with prospective students individually and took a trip to New York last year to talk to prospective students from the area.
“It’s such an energizing experience,” he said. “It reminds me of why I chose Georgetown.”
The idea of faculty interaction has also been integrated more formally into outreach programs for admitted students.
On GAAP Weekends, a faculty showcase includes lectures by top professors which give prospective students a taste of academic life on the Hilltop.
“My lecture gave me an insight into the kind of classes taught at Georgetown,” Brandon Kwan (COL ’15) said. “It had a small, cozy classroom feeling to it.”
According to statistics provided by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, over half of the class of 2015 attended a GAAP Weekend, giving a significant portion of the freshman class interaction time with a professor before he or she chose to matriculate.
For Matthew Caplan (COL ’15), the decision was sealed after he spoke with a faculty member as an applicant.
“The interaction with [that] professor reminded me of my favorite class in high school which was also my most mentally challenging and stimulating,” Caplan said. “I realized that the faculty at Georgetown would be of that quality and I would be pushed to challenge myself in each and every class I take here.”
Caplan added that he found the intellectual diversity of the professors, including the Jesuits, impressive as a prospective student.
“The Jesuit faculty [members] were actually the tipping point for me. Even though I’m a Jewish student, I found them to be so intellectual and fascinating.”
To allow applicants to view professors’ work firsthand, Admissions also offers the option to sit in on several classes when visiting.
Interested students may sample lectures of varying levels ranging from theology to chemistry.
Professor Rachel Barr, whose General Psychology and Memory classes are open to visitors, said that the in-class experience applicants receive is an important part of their final choice of college.
“It gives them a more realistic and in-depth picture of what class in Georgetown is actually like,” Barr said. “There are all these high school students who are trying to figure out what they want to do and where they want to go. It is useful for high school students to imagine what it would be like to be at Georgetown.”