Monday, March 22, 2010

Here Comes April 1...

It's starting to feel a bit like spring. Yes, we have seen some beautiful weather over the last few days, but what really makes it feel like spring is that we are getting close to releasing decisions on April 1! (Admissions officers live by admissions "seasons" - not the weather.) Decision letters will be posted online at 5:00PM Eastern Time on Thursday, April 1. We are in the midst of our final stages of review right now: reading, re-reading, checking updated info, and engaging in our version of "committee" conversations this week.

I had the chance to participate in a different decision release process last week, as my partner is graduating from Dartmouth Medical School this year and just received her residency "match." For those who have family or friends who have gone through "The Match" you have an idea about what this annual day in March is like; for those who are unfamiliar with the process, here is a quick overview.

In your fourth year of medical school you decide what you would like to specialize in. You complete your applications and send them off to residency programs (maybe this is 10 programs, maybe if it's a highly selective specialty, you apply to 100.) The programs then extend interview offers to candidates. You interview with programs and then develop your rank list (programs you would be willing to attend, in order of preference.) The programs also rank candidates, and everyone sends these rank lists to a central system that creates a match for each candidate. (One match.) For the 2010 Match, fourth-year medical students gathered at different events and ceremonies on March 18 and received envelopes. At Dartmouth, this was a gathering at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which kicked off with a slide show of pictures compiled by the fourth-year class, and then each member of the class was called up in random order and handed an envelope, which many opened on the spot - in front of classmates, faculty, family and friends - and read aloud their match.

Two things stood out in my mind as I watched this process unfold. First, I'm glad college admissions decisions aren't released this way; and second, there are so many people invested in the decision and path of each individual receiving an envelope. Classmates, friends, partners, parents, kids, family, mentors, faculty - all were invested in the contents of each envelope.

To all applicants awaiting decisions: I hope you will take some time to reflect again on what your hopes are for your college years (regardless of where you ultimately matriculate and before many of those admissions decisions come rolling in.) I also hope you will take a moment to think about all of the people in your life who are invested in your college process (and maybe take a moment to thank some of them, if you haven't already!) As with college admissions decisions, Match Day saw a wide range of emotions. Unlike college admissions, Match Day is the unveiling of one final match. Prospective '14s, the choice is ultimately yours at the end of this process. You decide, from among your options, where you will be headed next. I am very excited that for some of you, that will be Dartmouth.

I'm curious, what are your plans for opening and sharing that decision on April 1?


  1. Gah, Match Day seems horrible! I'm so glad that isn't how undergrad college admissions work.

    I think I'm going to open the online decision with my family; I don't really think I could do it alone, ha. I hope to be celebrating with them after (and booking a flight to Lebanon, NH!), but if not I will, ideally, be happy with some other college choices. No matter the result, I'll be relieved to finally discover where I will be spending the next phase of my life.

  2. hey Caroline,
    Nice thoughts. On my D day I will read a composition written by me when rejected by one of my top uni. I will post just an extract from that to save you from boredom
    Einsteins theory of relativity transcends physics and applies to our practical life also. Yesterday I was reading in the newspapers about an Olympic winner who lost at one of the other competitions. In one of his interviews he admitted being unhappy with himself. I wonder if a student, for instance me, gets admitted to his/her top choice school and at times doesn't do that well on tests there or loses some competition later on. now what? I mean two years ago he felt successful and now he feels dejected? How do we compute a persons competency? Can we? Failures and success seem to vary temporally and spatially after all. We could probably add a persons achievements at his deathbed and subtract his failures from it. Patient A of room 13 is more successful than patient C of room 32.

    Ha Ha Ha. This reminds me of a Bollywood song"chan se jo tute koi sapna". If I add my ever supporting parents,wonderful friends, the tasty ramen, my double joy at naming my team as Einstein at astronomy quiz and then proving it and reading about it in newspapers and my now slim body, for me life is just too beautiful. I don't think that a rejection letter can alone negate all these. In fact, I think it hardly makes a difference. With a light heart as I pen these last words I hope that other decisions add on to my success and not decrease it.

    On the decisions day whether the result is positive or not i will for sure read this . It would either console me again or bring my success in the right perspective. As far as revealing the decision goes I think it wouldn't be much of a problem as I already said in my post my parents and friends are supportive. I don't feel that conscious before them.

    best wishes (as you wind up the crucial job! :))

  3. Thanks for your thoughts! These comments raise some interesting points. No decision (or set of decisions) should call into question your accomplishments or all that you take pride in. The admissions process at Dartmouth is so selective (in part) because of the size and talent of our applicant pool. Every year we have to turn away students we know would do very well at Dartmouth.

    On the other side, an offer of admission can feel like an affirmation of all of your hard work and accomplishments - and it should feel that way! What I see as most exciting about an offer of admission, though, is the opportunity it presents. What you do with your experience at Dartmouth (or any other college) is completely up to you.

    The ideal position to be in, as an applicant, is to have a set of offers to consider at the end of the process, and I think that reflects on a thoughtful college list and set of applications. Just remember, while decisions (and accepting an offer of admission) mark the end of your college search process, it is just the beginning of your college experience. The next stage is really exciting! It's important to keep the responses you receive in perspective.