April 19, 2012
Accepted Students’ Day has become too regimented, preventing students from really getting a sense of what it is like to be a Hamilton student. Although many of the activities currently provide students with valuable information, seminars and tours do not provide the full story. Such sessions are canned and tours guides are all trained by the Office of Admission. As a result, prospective students are missing out on an opportunity to accurately determine if Hamilton is where they want to be.
The most effective way to improve this would be to provide prospective students with more opportunities to ask frank questions of current students who are not being paid for their input. The overnights that some prospective students participate in offer the most effective method for getting a true sense of the Hamilton experience. We understand that providing overnight hosts for the number of students that participate in Accepted Students’ Day would prove impractical, but we suggest that, instead of the many information sessions and structured activities, prospective students could spend at least a few hours of their days shadowing current students.
Potential incoming first-years could be paired with current Hamiltonians who share their academic or extracurricular interests, allowing the prospective students to get a sense of what it is actually like to be a science major or student athlete at Hamilton. Such contact with current students while they are going about their day would provide a more honest and informative understanding of Hamilton and allow students to envision what their lives would be like if they came here.
Additionally, the Office of Admission is not straightforward about many aspects of student life. For example, several of us wish that we had known about the significant influence of Greek life on the social scene or the heavy drinking culture here, which the Office of Admissions continues to downplay and distort. Although we certainly do not expect Admissions to hand out fliers containing lists of caveats to the Hamilton experience, pairing prospective students with current student hosts would allow them to receive honest and more varied answers about what students like and dislike about their time here.
The regimented nature of the day also does not allow for one of the great benefits of prospective students day: the opportunity to meet the other students who would make up their class. A large part of finding the right school is ensuring that your peers are people with whom you want to spend time. Although the rigid schedule of Accepted Students’ Day does ensure that prospective students are in the same place at the same time, there are no activities specifically focused on encouraging the students to socialize with each other, particularly without their parents hovering nearby.
Future Accepted Students’ Days should focus on providing the potential first-year class with access to hosts who do not work for admissions as well as opportunities to socialize with others students who would be in their class year. Such changes would help escape the overly-structured nature of the day, allowing for exploration and better understanding of what it is to be a Hamilton student.