For most Amherst College students, The Office of Admission is both geographically and psychologically separated from daily life. Considering how we’ve all endured some degree of stress through the college application process, I’m not so surprised that many students find little reason to concern themselves with what goes on in that little office building by the gym. Once accepted to Amherst, why would you ever want to talk about the Office of Admission again? It’s the one office on campus that seems totally unconcerned with the daily life of a current Amherst College student, and more interested in Amherst’s presentation and interaction with the external world. However, this is far from the truth.
As a Diversity Intern at the Office of Admission, through open house planning and other projects, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know the admission deans and their goals for the college. I know that these deans work diligently to incorporate the ideas of current Amherst students in their work. For instance, in the last year, the deans reached out to Native American students on campus to learn from them, and included them directly in their efforts to bring more Native American students to our campus. So while admission deans are indeed focused on selecting the next generation of Amherst students, they have made a considerable effort to fully reach out to the current student population to achieve this goal.
At the Office of Admission, I’ve worked with the deans who decide how Amherst is presented to the world beyond our community. They see student workers not just as mere assistants, but as important bridges between the student body and prospective students. At our weekly meetings, Diversity Interns can advocate for different groups and communities on campus, ensuring that prospective students get a complete picture of student life and culture. Without student involvement, April’s upcoming Admitted Students Open House would not be the same. For example, student advocacy led to new additions to open house programming, including events that will be held by the WGC, the QRC, the MRC, the CCE, and the Center for Religious Life. This way, prospective students will get to learn more about Amherst student life comprehensively beyond just the facts and statistics about the academic experience. Leykia Brill, one of the deans I know well, did a great job explaining how important all current Amherst students are to her work. She stated:
“The Office of Admission cares deeply about the well-being of the students we admit. You are more than just a number or a grade. You are a person with a story, and that story was so compelling that we decided you were someone worth taking a risk on in the admission process. We want to know what students have to say so that we can in turn bring students to the College who will add to that conversation. Our Diversity Interns are just SOME of the bridge-builders who help us with this, but any student is welcome to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas with us because we care to know!”
Through the Office of Admission, student workers can develop professional skills and have the opportunity to be a representative for Amherst. More importantly, even though I am a student worker, I’ve grown to value the Office of Admission community as a second family and I feel like an integral part of the office. I’ve built strong relationships with a diverse group of faculty, staff, and fellow students at the College that I might not have been exposed to otherwise.
I am sure other undergraduate colleges’ admission offices also have methods of involving their student bodies in their work, but I am truly grateful for the exceptional openness and initiative of the staff at Amherst’s Office of Admission to empower and collaborate with students on campus. As one can imagine, building a diverse class of students each year is no easy task. We’ve made so much progress as an institution in creating an environment where people interact with others of vastly different backgrounds, and we can credit much of that work to the Office of Admission.
To be fair, some would argue that the Amherst College community as a whole still has a great deal of work to do in regard to celebrating the diversity of its students after they are accepted, but we should still commend the Office of Admission for playing an active, positive role in that dialogue. Sadly, I think sometimes the hard work of the deans, as well as the rest of the staff in the Office of Admission, goes unnoticed. I encourage everyone to reach out to the Office of Admission and get to know the amazing deans there!