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  • Carol Morris

    Title: Regional Director of Admissions

    Company: Southern Methodist University

    • verified

    Former Admissions Officer at
    Tulane University 1980-1989 Southern Methodist University 1990 -present
    Years of Experience
    31

    Colleges I Attended
    Newcomb College of Tulane University B.A. in Communications 1980
    Degrees
    Bachelor's Degree
    Professional Affiliations
    NACAC, SACAC
    About Me
    I have been an admissions officer for 31 years, but I am also a parent and have been through this process twice with daughters who attended Princeton undergrad. One is about to start a dental residency at Johns Hopkins and the other is in medical school at Wash U in St. Louis. I have been married for 31 years to the same terrific guy who puts up with me being on the road visiting high schools and attending college fairs nearly six months out of each year!

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I’m there?

       

      A number of schools have begun tracking your interest level, which can play a part in the admission decision later on. Don't just visit the campus on your own; check in with the admissions office and let them know you're there! While it's helpful to attend the information session and tour, even if you simply hang out with current students who are friends, you don't want them to mistakenly assume you never visited campus (and therefore might be making a somewhat less-informed decision to apply, with a less-intense interest in the school, and subsequently less-strong odds that you will eventually attend.) Get credit for showing up!

    • As a high school junior, what are the most important things for me to do before senior year?

       

      If you will require teacher recommendations for admission or scholarship applications, ask (2-3) teachers from junior year classes if they would be willing to write one for you. Make this request in April or May (before school ends) which gives them time over the summer to work on it, while their memories of specific positive actions of yours are fresher. By fall they will have a whole new set of students to deal with as well as being inundated by requests from other seniors. Look for teachers who are proud of you and who seem to understand what makes you tick!

    • What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

       

      Size is all about perspective: one person's cozy, intimate experience at a small school is someone else's claustrophobic cage. Conversely, one student revels in the unlimited choices, both socially and academically, of a large university while another feels lost and overwhelmed in the relative anonymity of large classes and a less personal environment. Sometimes a medium sized school fits the bill if you are looking for some combination of the two; you may find Division 1 sports along with small classes, and lots of research opportunities coupled with knowing your professors well enough to get substantive recommendations. Consider the size of your high school; are you looking to approximate that experience, or try the opposite?

    • What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

       

      There is a common misperception that schools give preference to certain application forms (their own, for example) over others such as the Common Application. If a school lists a form as acceptable, take their word for it! As a reader, I am quickly scanning for specific information and rarely even notice which form is being used. However, the idea that we are not paying close attention to the information itself IS a myth! Misspellings, poor grammar, unanswered questions, and accidental references to wanting to attend a different college than the one who to whom it was sent are definitely noted, especially at smaller and more selective schools.

    • What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

       

      Even though it hurts not to be admitted to a school you like, remember that they deferred or wait listed you because they felt you would be a good addition to their community, if only they had room! If this is a school you truly want to attend, let them know it! Send a letter emphasizing your continued strong interest, and if you absolutely intend to show up in August if they admit you, tell them that, too. Meanwhile, keep your grades up, and if you suspect that test scores were part of the reason you didn't get in at first, consider re-taking them to give yourself a chance to look a bit more competitive. Finally, be patient. Wait lists can linger into the summer, and sometimes the students who are still hanging on at the end (most eventually drop off and commit emotionally to other schools) are ones who end up with a place when the school needs to fill the last few places in their class.

    • How can parents help students with the college search and application process?

       

      Parents, while you are probably fascinated by the subject, if you discuss college issues at every opportunity, most students will shut down and tune you out altogether. They are already anxious about admission, career prospects, leaving boy- or girlfriends, and more, so your gentlest references to next year may feel like bulldozers to the student. Pick a set time, once a week perhaps, and promise to confine your questions to that period (they are allowed to bring it up anytime they like.)  Also, do NOT share details of your child's scores, grades, application choices, etc. with friends and relatives without their express permission to do so!

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