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Admissions Festivus

Admissions Festivus

I recently had the opportunity to co-write this article with my friend and colleague, Brennan Barnard, Director of College Counseling at The Derryfield School, an independent day school in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Here are the first few paragraphs to give you a sense of the premise:

College counselors who work in secondary schools, and college admission officers who represent universities, are by and large affable people. We are in this field not because we revel in being “gatekeepers,” but because we love students and deeply value education and the opportunities it brings. Conversations at professional conferences are typically wide-ranging, entertaining and passionate; from football to politics; from travels to cooking; from The Simpsons to Stranger Things.

However, there are times when we disagree or simply dislike the way the other operates. And since our nation has too many poor public examples of finding understanding and middle-ground, we owe it to our students to model honesty and open communication. Unfortunately, as in all industries, there are some deeply entrenched patterns and phrases that can be divisive. Perhaps the biggest culprit in our profession is the notion that we are working on opposing “sides of the desk.” “Sides” fortifies our two roles and connotes division and intractable positions. The mere suggestion of a “desk” is also problematic in its formality- an austere, unbridgeable chasm.

So, in the spirit of the Holiday Season and the New Year, we’ve decided not only to resolve to stay open but also to turn a phrase and sit “side by side.” And what better way to do that then to borrow from a deeply loved tradition: Festivus. If you’re not familiar with this Seinfeld-created holiday, it’s essentially an airing of grievances.

Read the full article to see our gripes and rebuttals to each other’s objections…