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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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New Admission program to use students as recruiters

By Lee Purvey

The Office of Admission is instituting a new initiative this Winter Break as part of their ongoing efforts of student recruitment—they are recruiting current students to serve as representatives of Grinnell. Interested students will be placed in contact with their former high school and then, on their own initiative, arrange a fairly short visit sometime during early January. During this visit, these student representatives will speak to students and counseling staff about their experiences at Grinnell and distribute informational materials.

Photograph by Roni Finkelstein.

The idea for this initiative emerged from conversations President Raynard Kington has had with guidance counselors during the numerous high school visits he has made over the course of his time at Grinnell.

“I always ask, what are your suggestions for helping us broaden our base of top students who … seriously consider us?” Kington said. “And the single most common response I get from counselors is: have students who have gone to this high school come back and talk about their experiences.”

After hearing this reply enough times, Kington, in conjunction with the Office of Admissions, decided to develop a plan to make such visits a reality.

What resulted is the new program. Interested students attended a meeting on either this past Tuesday or Wednesday night, led by Admission staff members, Will Cummins ’10 and Tina Iyer Elfenbein. During these meetings, Cummins and Elfenbein described the general process student representatives will go through to prepare for and complete their visit.

While Admissions will initiate contact with a student’s former high school, it then becomes the student’s responsibility to schedule their visit and prepare for it however they see fit. While students were provided with some very general directions in training sessions and will be guided to a certain degree by Admission materials highlighting many of the most important elements of the Grinnell College experience, the Office of Admission has deliberately left the format of the visits largely up to each student’s discretion.

“The way that these particular high school visits play out will be highly dependent on each student and their connection to their high school,” said Doug Badger, Acting Dean of Admission. “I think there’s plenty of room for variation there.”

Kington and the Admission staff decided to grant this level of flexibility because, in their eyes, no one could be better equipped to deliver a presentation catering to the interests and concerns of those enrolled at a particular high school than somebody who went there.

“Students are the closest to the ground,” Kington said. “They’ve been at these high schools, so they know the culture. … They have much greater insight into what students at their high schools are thinking about … in terms of their decision processes.”

After their visit, Grinnell students will complete a questionnaire evaluating their experience during the visit in general. This is to give the College an idea of what areas prospective students are particularly interested in, what questions they typically ask and to which presentation techniques they especially respond.

In general, Admission anticipates this initiative will be an opportunity, not only to provide prospective students with information, but to learn from them as well.

“It should be a two-way exchange of information,” Kington said. “Our students will get insights into how we might do a better job communicating about the College and prospective students [will] get better insights about … the college experience here.”

Photograph by Roni Fineklstein.

About a dozen people total showed up to the meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. While this may not seem like an overwhelming turn-out, those students in attendance seemed excited about the chance to share their Grinnell experiences.

Chelsie Salvatera ’14 decided to get involved when she thought back on her experience applying to colleges.

“A lot of it was from my high school experience,” Salvatera said. “It really helped when I got to talk to students who went to my high school and went to colleges that I was interested in.”

A contributing factor to Salvatera’s decision to come to Grinnell was the endorsement of a former classmate, Sunny Mah ’11, who took the time to return to their high school to talk about her experience at Grinnell.

Above all else, Dean Badger stresses that this initiative is still in an incipient stage. He expects the program to change over time.

“To some extent, this is a bit of a trial run for us,” Badger said. “Depending on the results … here in the near future, we can look at ways to expand or to shape or to target the plan going forward. We’ll see how it goes.”

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