On Administration: White, Admissions Team Meeting the Class of 2001 Leslie Rice ------------------------------------ Homewood News and Information At the time of evening when most people have finished up work for the day, Hopkins admissions director Paul White is about as energetic as he was when his day began. It's a good thing, too, because chances are his day is far from over. Like the five counselors on his admissions team, evenings--and weekends--for White are often taken up with meetings with high school students and college counselors, usually at college fairs or college nights. In any given week, White and his counselors will each meet anywhere from 100 to 400 high school students who are searching for the perfect college for them. On a recent trip to New York, White visited 22 schools in one week. That same week the other five counselors were in high schools waging similar blitzes all over the country. The ongoing effort to sell the merits of Hopkins has become complicated by several forces as high school students become more and more demanding and discerning consumers. Bob Massa, dean of enrollment management, says this level of consumerism among high school students is mostly a by-product of the ever-rising cost of college tuition, which is $19,750 per year at Hopkins. Add on the cost of room, board, books, and that year can cost an estimated $28,250. Students and parents want to be completely sure they are making a good investment. Last week, White made that point during an afternoon at Friends School with three students who wanted to talk informally about their questions and concerns about Hopkins. "What are your interests?" he asked the group. "The sciences," said one. "Pre-med," said the other two. "Well, you should probably also know a little about what we have to offer in the humanities," said White. "Our humanities departments are among the best in the nation and yet people rarely talk about them when they talk about Hopkins." He emphasized the top faculty in the social sciences and humanities as well as the unique opportunities available to undergraduates. "We have students participating in [archaeological] digs in the Middle East," he said. White also stressed the excellence and the flexibility of the Engineering curriculum. It's no accident that White, like all the Hopkins recruiters, always returns to the subject of Hopkins' strengths in the social sciences, the humanities and engineering. "Most high school students have no sense of the diversity of academic fields at Hopkins," said Zenobia Moorman, assistant director of admissions, who has traveled the country recruiting for Hopkins. "Especially out west, students know Hopkins solely as a pre-med, math and science-oriented institution. While these programs are undeniably strong, we have to work really hard to make them aware of our strengths in all disciplines." The admissions team also goes to great lengths to emphasize extracurricular activities and the opportunity for undergraduates to cross-register for certain courses in area colleges including the Maryland Institute of Art and the Peabody Conservatory for no extra charge. Friends junior Tara Villa perked up at this; she's an accomplished percussionist and even though she hopes to become a doctor one day, she'd like to continue her musical training, she told White. Last summer, White announced that this year's crop of freshmen--his first incoming class since coming to Hopkins from Colgate University in September 1994--was a "class of do-ers." Last week was the deadline for early decision applications, which increased 25 percent from last year. "Of the ones we've seen so far, they are exactly what we're looking for," said White. "They are well-prepared academically, hold leadership positions, are involved in athletics, write for their newspapers and are involved in the arts. It bodes very well for the year; they'll raise the standards for the remaining applicant pool." That pool is expected to reach up to 8,000 by the Jan. 1 deadline. And while White is pleased by the prospects for the Class of 2000, he and his team are already busy pitching the university to those who may become the Class of 2001. During the McDonogh School session, counselors Alice Margraff and Elizabeth Ottinger tried to take a little of the anxiety out of the college search. "Now everyone stand up," Margraff instructed the crowd, "point your forefingers to your temples, close your eyes and repeat after me, There is no such thing as the one perfect college. No one perfect college? As Paul White looked on, he might have thought otherwise.
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