This is my first post on this blog, where I hope to give you an insider’s view of both Denison and the college admission process. By no means do I think I’m the most credible voice on either of those topics, but I intend to do my best to let you inside my head as much as I can – trust me when I say you don’t want to go too far. I may occasionally offer unsolicited recommendations for music and books, which is something I just can’t help.
At the beginning of this new year, something I have been thinking about a lot over the last 9 months or so is adaptability. I’ve been working in the college admission profession since I graduated in 2008, and part of this job has always meant traveling across the country, across the world, to meet with prospective students, counselors, families, and alumni. In fact, without doing the research, I would venture to guess that I haven’t gone more than a few months in that time without having a trip, even just a short trip, to another city or state. And every September and October I’ve spent the majority of my nights in a Hampton Inn (or something like that) in California, or Illinois, or Texas, or New York, or somewhere that was not my own home. To be honest, it’s one of the things I’ve always loved about this job, being able to explore new places.
That is, until this year. I – along with everyone else in this profession – have had to make the switch to actually being at home…all the time. I’ve slept in my own bed every night since January 2020, which for me, feels absolutely radical. But what always amazes me is how adaptable we are as people. I’m certainly itching to see a new skyline, hang out in an airport lounge and watch people walk past, or do some work in a coffee shop in Washington D.C. or San Diego. But I’ve enjoyed this time to explore a new part of myself, create routines and pick up new hobbies. I’m convinced there isn’t much we can’t become used to, and make the best of, over time.
I’m particularly reminded of this fact by our applicants. We are now in the thick of application review, and for all the diversity of our prospective students, this year everyone has at least one thing in common – life has been turned upside down, and it isn’t at all what they thought it would be before this all started.
But as I read more applications, I am consistently impressed by how our applicants have turned this situation into an experience in itself. Athletes whose seasons have been cancelled are competing with themselves. Artists who can’t perform on stage are finding other creative ways to bring people together. Students who have been leaders in clubs and organizations are demonstrating that leadership at home or in their communities. And while this is clearly accompanied by tremendous loss, and anxiety, and a lot of tragedy as well, it’s impossible not to recognize how incredibly agile these bright students are at finding ways to live life to the fullest in spite of all the obstacles.