Grads work in admissions

When Chris Hanson ’05 graduated from Yale last year, he was unsure of what his future would hold. Hanson, who had worked in the admissions office since his sophomore year, said he knew he wanted to take time off before graduate school, and a Yale admissions job seemed like a natural fit.

“I was listing the qualities I was looking for in a job and they all described the admissions officer position,” Hanson said.

Hanson is one of seven people who joined Yale’s 20-member admissions committee this year, and one of six recent Yale College graduates. The number of new faces this fall is unusually high, as two to four new officers are typically hired each year, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said. Brenzel, who stepped into his position last week, is also a beginner in the admissions field.

Though the five women and two men joining the committee this year said they are enthusiastic about their new positions, they said they were initially worried that they would not have the same level of experience as office veterans.

Christina Sanchez ’05 said she was concerned about her lack of experience reviewing applications.

“It was definitely my main concern over the summer,” Sanchez said. “‘How do you pick?’ can be a kind of overwhelming question.”

Brenzel said he thinks leading the admissions staff this year could pose additional challenges, since almost half of its members — including Brenzel himself — are novices at reading applications.

“The new folks read slower and they have more questions,” Brenzel said. “This is a concern as the application numbers remain high.”

But Brenzel said he is glad that many of the new officers are recent graduates because they are more in touch with the application process, having gone through it themselves only years before.

“There is incredible value in having periodic refreshment at the new officer level,” Brenzel said. “Few organizations have this kind of access to talent.”

Because of their lack of experience, Brenzel and the seven newcomers are each matched up with a senior staff member who will guide them through the initial stages of application reading, once the first crop of submissions arrives.

Brenzel said he hopes the learning process is a collaborative one.

“I imagine we’ll get tea and cookies and have a little huddle at the end of each day about all of the reading we’ve done that day,” Brenzel said.

What the new officers may lack in reading experience, Hanson said, they make up for in a understanding of the Yale experience.

“The new staff is really knowledgeable,” he said. “We were just here — we know what having a roommate is like. We can look at an applicant and say ‘I could imagine him being my roommate.’ The people who got hired represent a wide range. There are varsity athletes, a cappella singers, freshmen counselors.”

Most new admissions officers keep the job for a few years before heading to graduate school or beginning their careers, Brenzel said.

Sanchez, who worked in the admissions office since the spring of her freshman year, will go back to California, her home state, to work for Teach for America when she has finished her job as an assistant director on the admissions committee.

“California is also my region for admissions,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the high school counselors in the area. I’m a lot more familiar with the area now.”

The high number of new admissions officers is the result of seven vacancies created last year. Most of the departures occurred before former Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw announced in June that he would leave Yale to lead the admissions office at Stanford University this fall, Brenzel said.

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