In the admissions world, spring is a time for celebration for many applicants. This year, WashU received over 33,000 applications for a class size of approximately 1,800. The overall admit rate is just about 10%–the lowest in the university’s history. APAP members interviewed a sizable portion of those students (and future WashU alumni!), and I know how exciting it is to receive thank you notes from students who are intending to accept their offers. But for each student who will be celebrating their admissions decision, there are several more who will need to find another college home. And for APAP members, WashU’s selectivity means that many members have to cope with the disappointment of not having interviewed a student that received an offer of admission.
As a longtime APAP member and former admissions officer myself, my best advice is twofold. First, everything will work out—for both the students and for us as volunteers! Second, our roles as APAP members are more important than a student’s admissions decision.
To that first point, my years as an admissions officer taught me the importance of perspective. Many high school seniors are now learning to open their eyes to new perspectives and college options. Perspective is just as valuable for APAP members. Recently, I read an article by an individual who has a dual perspective on the admissions process as both a parent and a high school guidance counselor. In her role as a parent, she fretted about her son’s admissions process, while knowing in the back of her head that—just like her high school advisees—her son has all the characteristics to be successful at his second- or third-choice school after he was denied admission by his first-choice school.
It is important to remember that the majority of WashU applicants apply through Regular Decision, meaning that we were not necessarily their first-choice school. And from my admissions officer days, I remember well the many students who did select us as their first-choice school and, after being denied admission, expressed their intent to apply as a transfer student after spending a year or two at another institution. The vast majority of those students ended up being extraordinarily successful elsewhere and likely never thought about transferring here again after spending a few weeks at another institution. Again, everything works out—for them, and for us.
And finally, remember the main reason why we signed up to be APAP members: to be a WashU ambassador. I know firsthand that the information we convey to the admissions office from our interviews is taken seriously during committee deliberations. And our ambassadorship leaves a positive impression on every applicant we interview. That is true for the students who are admitted and choose to attend another institution, and it is true for those students who are not admitted.
Thank you for all of your hard and selfless work over this past year. It is a vital part of the admissions process. We look forward to interviewing more students and leaving a positive impression on the next generation of WashU applicants.