The roomful of admission “assistants” poring over college applications at the Campus Center last week was quiet, save for the rustling of papers and the occasional scratch of a pen.
The group had been asked to rate three high school seniors applying to the fictional Rockepont College in Anywhere, Md.—and to do so within the 15-minute-per-applicant window that is typical for college admission departments.
“I use an egg timer so I know I’m staying on track,” advised workshop leader Sidonia Dalby, associate director of admission at Smith.
In reality, the assistants were all prospective students taking part in a daylong “Inside Look at College Admissions” event June 20 for high school girls with Smith alumnae connections.
Upstairs, their parents and grandparents were going through a similar exercise, reviewing mock college applications with the help of a seasoned Smith admission officer.
While the students focused their discussion on the quality of the essays submitted, the adults honed in on process issues.
“Is participating in sports an advantage?” one mom wanted to know.
The Inside Look event also offered campus tours and workshops on paying for college, college essays and parents’ role in the application process.
Over lunch, the 80 participants in this year’s event also had a chance to talk with current Smith students and, later in the day, ask questions of Dean of Admission Debra Shaver.
This is the fourth year Smith has hosted an event for prospective students with alumnae ties, said Deedee Cleveland, senior assistant director of admission.
“It differs from our open house in that the sessions are not specific to Smith,” Cleveland said. “It’s really a service to our alumnae; an opportunity for students and their parents to get the inside scoop on the admission process.”
Emily Bukowski-Thall ’90, whose daughter, Grace, is the first of her four children to be applying to college, said she appreciated the broad scope of the day’s activities.
“It’s informative, and I like that they are coming at it from a universal perspective,” said Bukowski-Thall, a veterinarian from Wells, Maine, who had also brought two of her daughter’s friends to the event.
Helen Onthank ’82 of Boston said the sessions helped make the admission process feel less daunting.
“It’s nice for my daughter to hear from someone else besides me” about applying to college, she said.
On the student side, Theo Dean-Slobod, a rising senior at Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Maine, said she had “definitely learned a lot about admission” from doing the mock exercises.
“It’s intriguing to see different people’s perceptions of the applications,” said Dean-Slobod, whose sister, Quincy, is a rising sophomore at Smith.
Although she has not yet decided where to apply to college, Katharine Templeton, 17, of Providence, said she was excited to be at Smith, her mother’s alma mater.
“I like being here,” she said. “It’s a special place for my mom, so it’s special to me.”