A couple of months ago, my mom told me of a student asking for my help. She had made Fordham, but her boyfriend, who she said was a very good student, was waitlisted. Knowing that I, if nothing else, knew a lot of people to talk to at Fordham, mom passed this girl on to me. I know that this years admissions numbers were through the roof in both quantity and quality, so it had to be tough to get off that list. It didn't seem like the numbers would be in this student's favor, which is a shame, because its just a very difficult process altogether. The admissions group does a great job with selection, but its also a tough job, because you're dealing with the emotions and expectations of literally thousands of candidates. Its so hard to select one versus another and its, of course, not a perfect process.
The one thing that I told him was that, like in any other situation, like hiring, for example, its probably better when someone has a personal experience with you, and that he should make himself known to the right person. The Admissions Office can't possibily interview 15,000 people, but it would be great if someone at the University was able to talk to him. Showing up at Admissions and begging isn't quite what I had in mind, but I'm sure that's probably what a lot of people do. I don't envy the people that have to answer all of these really sincere and heartwrenching phonecalls from students and parents alike.
I asked what this student's major was and it turns out that he wanted to do journalism. Fordham has a great communications program and so I went straight to the top. I contacted Dr. Paul Levinson, the Chair of the department, and basically asked if he would be willing to take a meeting with the student. I said that if it turns out this student is really good, he could pass on a positive message to Admissions if he sees fit, and if not, no harm done and perhaps if nothing else this student would get some words of wisdom from an experienced professor.
Well, not only did Dr. Levinson meet with this student, but he asked the student for writing samples. I still didn't think there was much of a shot for this kid, though, just because of the numbers, until I got this e-mail today. It was actually the first time I had direct contact with the student...
Dear Mr. O'Donnell,
Although we have been in correspondance for
quite some time now in one form or another we have never actually
directly spoken. As I'm sure you know by now, my name is ..., and I'm writing to tell you how sincerely grateful I am for
everything you did for me during the college acceptance process. Please
don't think me rude for taking so long to respond, but I've been very
overwhelmed as of late. One of the positive things that I got out of
this whole application experience, is a genuine sense of gratefulness
for my acceptance to Fordham. Unlike some others to whom admission came
easy, I will not take one day of my career at Fordham for granted. I am
thoroughly looking forward to the fall, and beam with pride whenever I
get to tell someone about my college plans. Once again thank you so
much for arranging my meeting with Dr. Levinson, who was invaluable to
my quest for Fordham admission. At some point I hope I am able to thank
you in person, but until that day you have my deepest gratitude.
Fordham University Class of 2009
I forwarded this to Dr. Levinson, who responded:
Truly my pleasure. Fordham is a winner in the humanity it allows
into such tough processes like college acceptances.
All best wishes,