Didn’t Your Parents Teach You That It’s Not Polite to Stare?

While traveling for work my seem exotic to many it can be quite exhausting.  Generally, a day of travel for my colleagues and I incorporates four high school visits and some form of evening program (a college fair, a panel, an evening program, etc).  I try to make my high school visits informal and relaxed.  I see it as an opportunity for high school students to ask the questions that are most pressing to them (be they about the application and admission processes or be they about William & Mary in general).  I even begin my high school visits by telling students that when they come to my turf I talk at them.  When I come to their turf I want to talk with them.  I am always hopeful that the students’ questions will drive the hour-long conversation that is a high school visit.  Sometimes this works brilliantly and I engage in dynamic, honest, and oftentimes entertaining conversations with students.  Other times I provide my opening directions and then proceed to hear crickets.  It’s uncomfortable for everyone when I’m just being stared at by 20 or even 40 sets of eyes and no one has any questions to ask.  At that point, I of course proceed to talk about William & Mary but the manner of speaking is more rote; there is a palpable lack of energy.  So as a preventative measure I thought I might suggest to you students some great questions to ask of admission officers during high school visits.  Those I am suggesting are not the typical questions (i.e. “what GPA does your school require?” or “should I interview?”) but the more atypical, thoughtful, and engaging questions that will make the high school visit worthwhile to all.

  1. What did you expect to find at your school that in fact you have not found?
  2. What didn’t you expect to find at your school? (i.e. what has surprised you about your school?)
  3. What have been some of your favorite essays to read?
  4. Describe a typical day at your school.
  5. Tell me about a stressful experience or time at your school and what did the school do to support you?
  6. How do you think your school helps students grow and change?
  7. If your school was a car or clothing store what car or clothing store would it be?
  8. What do students miss most about the school when they leave?
  9. What type of student is a good fit at your school?
  10. How does an applicant distinguish him/herself from other applicants?

High school visits can be more than a convenient excuse to miss class.  They are designed to be informative and engaging.  We do our job because we enjoy interacting with students so please interact with us.  Hopefully these questions will prevent future staring contests.

– Wendy Livingston

Categories: Admission, Faculty & Staff Blogs

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