College Applications: Trust the Process

Prior to coming to GDS, I worked in college admissions for nine years, and during that time, I read nearly 30,000 applications! My first job was at NYU, and at the time, the university was experiencing an explosion of applications. My office was literally covered in application files, and I read constantly—gaining the inevitable paper cuts, as well as a deep understanding of the applicants. I would arrive in the office early each morning to get a jump on the day, and on my way up the steps to my office overlooking Washington Square Park, I would stop in my boss’s office to check-in. Noting the amount of work ahead of us, his refrain to reassure us both that we would enroll a new freshman class in time was: “Trust the process.” The truth was, our painstaking process worked.

Though born from a different angle into the college application process, that phrase remains in my mind today, because it rings true for GDS High School seniors as well.

For many GDS seniors, this can be a tricky time of year. They have spent hours crafting essays, editing personal statements, and researching colleges. Their applications are out the door, marching through cyberspace, waiting to enter the queue for an admissions officer to review. The distant and seemingly incomprehensible work to get into college is no longer in their hands—now it is time to wait.

Waiting can be difficult, but I also think that GDS seniors and their parents have every right to feel a sense of comfort at this point. All of their hard work has gotten them here, and now is the time to trust the process—trust their preparation and their choices—because after more than 15 years in this field, GDS’s process is one that I trust.

The GDS process is intentional. We work closely with students (starting as juniors) in a way that allows them to first think about themselves and what is most important to them. We help them identify types of environments in which they feel most engaged and most like their authentic selves.

The GDS process is aligned with our school’s mission and the statements of “A GDS Student Will…”. Encouraging wonder, inquiry, and self-reliance is embedded in how we encourage students to approach the college process. We push students beyond name recognition to identify what they and their families value in order to build comprehensive and balanced college lists.

The GDS process works because our students are the kinds of kids I can believe in. GDS students are some of the most engaged and interesting college applicants out there—and it shines through in their applications.

Often as our initial college meetings wrap-up, I like to leave students and parents with an assurance that this process is going to be fun. More often than not, that statement is met with a raised eyebrow. But trust the process—there is a lot to learn, and a lot to gain.

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