Rice University Admissions Essay

Rice University Admissions Essay-15
Team-based approach This year, two Rice admissions officers sat together as they reviewed an application on separate computer screens.

Team-based approach This year, two Rice admissions officers sat together as they reviewed an application on separate computer screens.

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Sometimes, high school parents will express disbelief at how fast counselors read applications in the committee-based process, said Alyson Tom, a former Rice admissions officer who is now an associate director of college counseling at the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, Calif.

Tom, who worked at Rice from 2005 through 2010 and left admissions in part to have a greater work-life balance, tells them that the process moves quickly regardless of the reading style.

In future years, Romero da Silva said, the reading process can go even faster.

Having one box for notes instead of several, for example, reduces clicks and can “shave off seconds” — which adds up to hours, she said.

Rice has seen applications soar since 2004, when President David Leebron came to the university from Columbia Law School. In the old system, individual admissions officers here and around the country took home files over the weekend and worked late nights from November through March, former Rice admissions officers said.

Applications would then be passed to a second reader, said Jake Sisco, who left Rice to work at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in November.The 17-year-old high-school senior had no idea that it would likely take two Rice staff members less than 10 minutes to do a primary review of her transcript, test scores, essays and recommendations.Rice speeded up and overhauled its evaluation process this year after the elite private university lured away a top University of Pennsylvania admissions dean who oversaw the development of the method — called committee-based evaluation.First, because of the discussion and collaborative notes, staff no longer write individual summaries of applications that needed to be passed among employees. Because junior and senior staff members pair off, a newer employee asks questions as he or she reads an application.A seasoned admissions officer answers in real time.“It would have really been a challenge.” Rice accepted about 11 percent of applicants this year, releasing decisions for many of those students on Friday afternoon.Last year, the acceptance rate was about 16 percent.“Ten minutes is generous, whether they’re using (committee-based evaluations) or the more traditional reads,” she said.Romero da Silva said criticisms of the process moving too quickly ignore that the admissions officers deeply understand their field — and the fact that working quickly early in the process allows for more time to focus on competitive candidates. That would take a lay person minutes to really capture what’s being conveyed,” she said.Elite colleges and universities took note when Penn started committee-based evaluation in 2013.Top-tier admissions offices were in need of change, swamped by an onslaught of applications and under pressure to select incoming freshmen classes with premier grades, diverse experiences and backgrounds and a wide array of interests, scholarly and otherwise.


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