Overheard in Early Decision Committee — The Saga Continues

Admit It!  The Overheard in Committee Blogs leave you wanting more.  You feel more like an insider in this process than you did previously.  We get it and we’re here to give our audience what they want.  So without further ado…

Overheard in Committee today: “Show me an excellent from Dance.”

We were reviewing the file of a young woman who had made an art submission.  The student was fine but not flashy; what we might call standard strong (a solid applicant whose file lacked any distinguishing features).  This student’s extracurricular activities were fairly narrowly focused on dance and she was involved with little outside of that particular realm.  Her involvement with her dance company was fairly substantial however as she practiced for nearly 15 hours per week and had performed in significant ballets such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.  She had wisely made a fine art submission to our faculty for review and we were hoping for a favorable review to help us with our decision.

The fine art submission is an optional component to the application.  Those who have a penchant for visual art (painting, drawing, sculpting), theatre, dance or music performance can submit their work to W&M faculty for review.  The faculty send their review of your work to the Admission Office which becomes part of your application.  Just as we rely on our coaches to tell us who the best athletes are in our applicant pool, we rely on our fine arts faculty to help us discern true artistic talent.  While the fine art submission (or its absence) does not alone determine whether or not we admit an applicant, it can have a positive impact on strong applicants as a validation of their time and talent.

The faculty use a version of the Common Application’s recommendation rating scale to rate the talents of individual applicants.  The two highest ratings are excellent and outstanding and they can sometimes be a tip factor for a particular student.  In this young woman’s case she received an outstanding, meaning her talent was equal to that of the top dancers on our campus.  It validated her talent and the contribution she can make to campus.  That became the tip factor for the committee who voted to admit her.  If she had not made an art submission the decision could have easily gone the other way because we would not have any verification for her talent, and without it she may not have stood out from the pack.

The moral of this story, if you have a special talent, show it off.  College applications are not a place to be modest.  And chances are if you’re heavily involved with the fine arts, you already have your talent documented either on slide, CD or DVD so sending in a submission should take you little to no time at all.  Share all you can, don’t leave us wanting more.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission

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