In an effort to contribute a bit as an alum of both my undergrad and grad schools, I do a bit of volunteering as my way of giving back. I throw my undergrad school a couple of bucks every year, but for a number of reasons ( mostly my looming student loan debt which I will probably pay off by the time any kids I have go to college), I don’t contribute financially to my grad school, but what I do for them is alumni admissions interviews for prospective freshmen. I’ve been doing it for the past four or so years and it is something I look forward to each December- January. The past few years I’ve done anywhere from one or two a year; last year I had a record nine interviews. This year, I have three, which is a perfect number.
I had the first of these interviews last night and without giving away information or details, the young girl I interviewed was a bright, enthusiastic student who clearly cares deeply about her education and her future. This, as you can imagine, is not always the case. A lot of times kids are applying to this particular university because of its location, its prestige, and their reputation as a need-blind school for financial aid. All legitimate reasons for applying to an institution of higher education, but it’s amazing when talking with some of these people how little amount of time they have actually thought about what they want from college or what they want to learn.
Now, I know that many an 17 or 18 year old high school senior has no clue what they want out of life and many of them see the opportunity to go to college as a right, not a privilege. I’ve spoken to many of them who apply to this college as their reach school or because their parents wanted them to, and a lot of the students who fall into this category answer many the questions about why they want to go to college in the most vague way ever OR they talk about getting out of the house and the social experiences of college. The admissions interview with me may be formal, but it’s not that informal that you should be talking about parties and joining sororities.
The young girl who I interviewed last night was poised and articulate and I could tell from her various stories and answers that she has worked hard for her school successes. She reminded me a lot of myself, though as a senior in high school I wanted to be everything from a lawyer to a documentary film maker. Like so many other people I have interviewed, she was/is just so full of promise and ideas for life– it was a great reminder to me that those ideas and dreams just don’t go away because I’m approaching 30. In fact, I think now is the time I need them more than I did when I was 18.