The times, they are a-changin’.

Come gather round, people, wherever you roam…. Judging from the title of this post and my throwback reference at the end of yesterday’s, it would appear that this is 1960s week at the A2Z blog. But don’t let that fool you; I may be writing retro, but we’re all about progress.

Specifically, in response to the majority of survey participants who indicated a preference for immediate information, the online status check is now revamped and revised to omit what had been a three-day delay between a decision being made and that change being reflected online—and it will now reveal the substance of our admissions decision, as opposed to coyly indicating only “decision.” Just in time for the holidays, when people are often away from their default mailing address! We will, of course, still send out actual letters; I may have been persuaded to loosen up a little, but we’re not talking about a wholesale personality change. I confess, though, that in the case of people to whom we are not offering admission, I worry about adding insult to injury; does anyone really want to see two denial messages from one school? For what it’s worth, it pains me too.

In any event, while the changes required some reprogramming by IT, the bulk of delay between deciding to make the change and actually instituting it resulted from my spending, oh, approximately 20 hours spread over four days (some of the hours were in the middle of the night) to think up the exact best 20 or so words to indicate that someone has been admitted or denied. (When Justice Brandeis said, “There is no great writing, only great rewriting,” I suspect he had a work product with a bit more heft in mind.) But I was heartened that our process change revealed that I am not alone in my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

As many of our students have told me, given our reluctance until now to post the actual decision status online, it was not uncommon in the past for applicants to try to back-door their way into learning the outcome of their application: once the online status check showed “decision,” some folks would attempt to log into our admitted students website. Because I am a control freak, this made me fret; I wanted people to get the exciting news from the exciting packet I was mailing, not from a singularly lackluster log-in! But I dealt with my anxiety by just ignoring that the practice occurred. Now that we have rendered the practice unnecessary, I thought, for old time’s sake, it would be fun to look at the aggregate data on log-in attempts. And that’s how I learned that there are other people out there whose capacity to spend excessive amounts of time on tasks that others might dispatch quickly, or not engage in at all, rivals my own. Looking only at the data through November 1, I was fascinated to see that, of the 502 people who had tried to access the admitted students site prior to being admitted, 73 did so just once; 273 did so 10 times or more; 50 did so 50 times or more; 6 tried 100 times or more; and one dedicated individual tried 215 times. I promise, though, that I will await the end of the admission season to look up identities. And if Mr./Ms. 215 turns out to be in the entering class, I’m going to present him/her with a customized T-shirt. (Mind you, getting the wording right will probably take me a month or so.)

-Dean Z. Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Planning