The Tough Decisions of the Admission Process: An Admission Director’s View

The Tough Decisions of the Admission ProcessAndrew Weller, admission director at Ridley College (a coed boarding school in Ontario, Canada) publishes the blog Independent School Admission Musings.

He uses the space to comment on the admission process and on topics growing out of his admission perspective.

I highlight him today because I think his two most recent posts are worth a few minutes of time as we enter the final weeks of the traditional admission and financial aid calendar.

The posts are worthy reads for both families and admission professionals.

In “Tricky Balance” and “Saying No,” Weller explores the concept of ‘school fit’ from the admission/school angle. I’m always talking and writing about ‘school fit’ from the parent and student perspective. But, the ‘school fit’ equation must also be worked and solved from the school, as well as the family side of the equation.

Weller does justice, and sheds light, on the kinds or work and competing priorities that he, and his colleagues throughout the admission community, must weigh and examine as they work toward a student’s admission decision.

As Weller says, “It’s not always pretty.”(TB)

The admission process from the admission officers side isn’t pretty because, as much as a school (and admission officer) wants to be fair with every family student, their interests are not aligned. In the end, the admission officer must make a decision/act in the best interest of the school.

It’s all about school fit. Weller explains in “Tricky Balance”:

“…if we offer admission out of pity, out of false hope, or simply because we like a kid and/or their parents. If that kid is going to struggle, if we are not able to meet their needs, or if we feel we can not be partners with the parents, then we have to say no for the sake of our school. And for the sake of that applicant.

Inappropriately admitted kids are a drain on resources, are taxing to teachers, and can negatively impact the experience of our other students. Furthermore, inappropriately admitted applicants can result in that student having academic if not also personal set-backs. Issues of confidence and self-esteem are quite tender and fragile at certain ages. And when that kid does not return for a second year, we have set them up to move on to their third school in three years. Not healthy. Not helpful.”

In “Saying No” Weller elucidates the process of denying a student admission when, as he says “no such flaw or [poor] grade exists.”

Admission Process- Balancing Equations

It’s important to bear in mind that, just as many of us had to balance equations in chemistry, so, too, must admission professionals balance the admission equations of each and every applicant.

‘Can our resources (academic and financial) serve and be put to the best use in service to the the student before us?’

That’s the judicious question that admission professionals must answer countless times each admission season. Even the most difficult decisions come down to school fit with admission officers doing their absolute best even when the answer is “no.”

Additional resources:

Independent School Admission Musings

Boarding schools in Canada

Ridley College –

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

More by Brian Fisher

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