I fire up the computer sometime between 6 and 7 each morning—read my overnight email, go upstairs and brew Starbuck’s Sumatra (my older daughter works for Starbuck’s so no whining about corporate coffee, yadda yadda), walk the dog, pick up the two newspapers in front of my house. Drink the coffee, read my newspapers and then am in front of my two screens about 8 a.m. for a day of reading—vote sheet on the screen to my left, scrolling app directly in front of me.
I do the easy lifting first as warm up: 2nd reads take 10-15 minutes each and I’m looking to see if the 1st reader has missed something or if I disagree with the read: sometimes yes, usually no.
The heavy lifting begins. 1st reads can take over a half-hour. I come at them with a blank slate and scroll through the app with great care, taking notes on scratch paper as I go. I want to know what the student has to say and what the recs say about the student. Most everyone is a good student so what distinguishes this individual? Do they have special talents, intense passions? Will they fit in Whitman’s participatory, collaborative environment? What will they bring to the table and what will they take from the table?
An admission from an admission officer: I sometimes email a student whose app I’ve just read if their writing knocks my socks off. Sometimes they email back, surprised that there’s a human being on the other end of cyberspace. There is.