Leslie Davidson Interview (Part 3)

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In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt interviews Leslie Davidson, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Beloit College, and they discuss admissions and seeking enrollment and aid during COVID-19.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Well, thank you, Leslie. That was such a comprehensive and helpful list of questions. And I agree that students and their parents should be questioning the colleges and figuring out how they’ve handled all the issues that students are facing with COVID safety protocols, as well as the impact that the college is having on the larger community, which has brought our implications beyond the students themselves. So I know you mentioned in terms of finding out the information you mentioned. Go to the website. Are there, I guess, specific places that colleges are posting this information, or is there a central place that people can find out about this kind of information for different colleges? Certainly it should be easy to search a college’s website to find their COVID plan. 

LD: There’s a website that was rating COVID dashboards that was set up last fall, and that was rating colleges based on the clarity and effectiveness of the COVID information they were posting online. 

AL: That was a one out of Davidson right? The COVID- 

LD: Yes that sounds right. Yes, that sounds right. 

AL: I had sent people there, and there is a lot of great information on there, but I think a lot of the questions you asked are very qualitative about the general day to day lived experience of people on and off campus, of going to these institutions and what that is like and how the students are treated and how the alumni are involved. I think that that’s so important when you’re choosing a college is to look at the rate of compassion of the college. Are the colleges seeing the students as something to deal with, or are they really trying to partner with them as they go on this journey? 

LD: A lot of those questions get at culture and the culture of an institution will tell you a lot about how they’re likely to respond to other things that come up. 

AL: If I am a senior or a parent of a senior right now, what are some things that I should look out for to help me decide? So let’s say I have two colleges and they seem to be reasonably handling the situation. How can I sort of decipher what that means for me in terms of my experience coming into the fall? 

LD: Sure, to this year’s seniors, I would say you have had a very different experience. You’ve had to explore campuses from a distance with greater physical distance between us. Interpersonal connection is more important than ever. And I think colleges were close. Relationships and mentoring are a fundamental part of the culture have sustained those priorities through the shift to virtual interaction. And, I would say, be on the lookout for this. How has the college kept in touch and communicated with you as an applicant? Has the tone and the content felt appropriate to the times? Has the college demonstrated creativity and showcasing the campus remotely, giving you both formal and informal opportunities to learn about all aspects of the campus experience? Talk to students and faculty. Investigate advising carefully, ask how students and faculty work together outside of the classroom, find out how students interact with staff. I would look at the question of how the college has adapted to the pandemic. Beyond the list of questions I provided earlier, you’ve had an opportunity to learn about colleges from the way they’ve handled an unexpected challenge. Just like people, institutions vary in their responses to adversity. Look for places that have leaned in. Used challenge as an opportunity to innovate showed creativity and compassion and developing solutions that are student focused and inclusive. Look for places that are working to ensure you have the best possible campus experience and that are strengthening the connection between college and career at a moment of profound economic uncertainty. This is taken on a new urgency for you and your parents or college is paying attention. And then I would say look for the same thing in admission offices. What evidence has the college given that it’s considered your circumstances? The last year has been radically different for so many of you. You’ve adjusted to remote learning, sometimes without reliable Internet. A dedicated place to study, your ability to participate in clubs, activities, sports and service has been limited. You may have had to set schoolwork aside to care for younger siblings or older family members. Stress may have made it difficult to focus. These challenges should be understood in context and should not have affected your chance of getting in. It’s always the case in acutely so this year that unless we consider students in context, merit can easily become synonymous with privilege and historic advantages. Your perseverance and determinate and your inclination to take advantage of whatever resources and opportunities are available to you are important indicators of your ability to be successful in college. And finally, I would say, if you haven’t gotten in where you’d hope or are reconsidering your options, there is unprecedented flexibility right now. Many fine colleges, many more than you might expect, are still taking applications. They understand your circumstances. There’s still awarding financial aid and scholarships, and an unprecedented number of colleges are not requiring test scores. So May 1 is looming. We all have that date in mind, but there’s ample opportunity to shift course right now if that feels like the right choice for you.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.