Colleges admissions officers host info-sessions at school


Naomi Yaeger, Staff Writer

Between September 15 and November 20, college admissions officers from over 70 colleges nationwide visit the school to provide informational sessions to seniors and juniors. “Colleges are trying to get information out to our students about what their colleges are about, what they’re like, what they’re good at,” Executive Director of College Counseling (CoCo) Canh Oxelson said.

While both juniors and seniors are allowed to attend the sessions, only seniors are excused from class with their teacher’s permission, Oxelson said. “Juniors are encouraged to come to sessions during their free periods.” Despite this, not many juniors have attended the sessions so far, Oxelson said.

Unlike sessions on college campuses, sessions at the school were focused on questions specific to Horace Mann students, Coco Trentalancia (12) said. “They knew what HM kids look for, what kind of a community we are, and how well rounded our students are.” The sessions are useful and allow her to express interest in a school, so Trentalancia plans to attend them for every school on her list, she said.

The information presented in each session varies depending on the interests of the students who attend, Lawson Wright (12) said. “In the University of Richmond one, the admissions officer discussed what makes a good application [and] how you can convey character and personality through your application,” Wright said. Some sessions, such as the one for the University of Chicago, were driven entirely by student questions.

To host a session at the school, colleges begin to schedule times in July and continue to communicate throughout the fall, Oxelson said. “We wait for colleges to reach out to us and when they say they are interested in visiting, we send them a link allowing them to schedule [a session].”

The school tries to schedule a college admissions officer visit with every college that contacts them, Oxelson said. “We want our students exposed to as many different kinds of colleges as possible,” he said. “We don’t say no to any college, whether it’s a college in Italy, or a college in Canada, or a college in the southwestern part of the United States.”

The sessions bring the human aspect of the college process to life, Divya Ponda (12), who attended Northwestern’s session, said. “Meeting the admissions officers helped me realize that at the end of the day, they are just people.”

As more colleges have begun to host virtual sessions due to COVID restrictions, around 10 percent of the sessions this year have been virtual, Oxelson said. “It’s harder to connect with students virtually,” he said. “It’s valuable for a representative to see the school, where it is, what kinds of students go here, what kinds of conversations they have, what kinds of questions they have.”

Hosting in-person sessions allows students to engage with the colleges’ material more easily, William Chung Park (12) said. “It’s a lot easier to ask questions, and the session is much more interactive when it’s in person.”

While the sessions help students learn more about schools they are interested in, most colleges don’t see attendance as a necessary part of an application, Oxelson said. “The urban legend is that you want to demonstrate that you are interested in a school,” he said. “While that’s true, it’s not as important as going to visit the school yourself or applying early, which would demonstrate a real interest.”

However, a few schools do pay attention to attendance at such sessions, along with campus visits, online events, and interviews, Oxelson said. “There are some schools that don’t see a lot of applicants from Horace Mann, where it might actually help the student’s record to attend a session,” he said. In those cases, the CoCo will point out that school to the students who are thinking about applying, Oxelson said.

Wright is grateful for the sessions and how they gave him the opportunity to gather information about schools that were difficult to visit, he said. “I wasn’t able to visit the University of Richmond yet, so I think the session helped bring the school to life.”