For today’s “A Day in the Life” post, I thought we would take a trip down memory lane. Why? Well, many of you are graduating or heading into your junior or senior years. Applying for admission and waiting for acceptances letters from colleges are a distant memory. So I thought it would be fun to get the inside scoop on the process from the Associate Dean of Academic and Enrollment Services and Director of Admission, Mr. Michael Hughes. If Mike’s name sounds familiar to you, it is because he likely signed your acceptance letter! Get ready to reminisce! Here is “A Day in the Life” of Mike Hughes: January 28, 2011:
“Professor Doohan asked if I would write this blog, and as I have a great respect for her” Thanks, Mike! “and was a Communication major in college (Florida State – long ago), I’m happy to agree.” Can you believe it? Another Communication Studies major on campus! I didn’t even know how many there are! “Disclaimer: I also have an MFA in Writing from USF – not that long ago – hence, perhaps, the wordiness of the following, which I encourage Professor Doohan to edit.” Not a chance… the information is too good! “This was a very busy day in January – and following days have been equally busy, which explains the time lag.
Mike Hughes, Director of Admission and former COMS major, busy working at his desk
8:37 Arrive to check time on phone. Red light on phone means messages, stacks of vote sheets for new applications on desk next to open file with Embanet Compass documentation on on-line learning initiative, competing for my time. Open Microsoft Word to find new version, with which I am not familiar, so cannot adjust font or type-size. Pre-occupied with 9 am meeting on new vendor for on-line graduate application.
Message on phone from prospective student telling me that he was supposed to have called yesterday at 4 pm, but ‘the line was busy or something,’ which was not true as I was sitting here working waiting for his call. Do not listen to remainder of message, will e-mail later asking him to re-arrange time and stick to his commitment. Advice: If you make an appointment, keep it. If you can’t keep it, communicate. If you mess up, apologize and move forward.
Sarah Genter, Director of Graduate Admission Operations, tells me she’ll meet me at 9 am meeting after she gets coffee.
Noise in hallway starts to heat up as counselors arrive.
Check application numbers – almost 13,000. More than 11,000 for freshmen, rest transfer applications. That’s up about 30% from last year, good news, except for the files that need to be read. I’m lucky, I only have to read about 500, others more like 1,200.
Open e-mail. Call from BJ Johnson, my boss, Dean of Academic and Enrollment Services, asking if I know about an event on 4/13 and 4/14 that Bon Appetit is calling about. I don’t – our events are scheduled for prior weekend. No time for e-mail. On to 9 am meeting. I can be down the hill in 8 minutes.
9:01 Phone conference with George Washington U. to talk about their use of ApplyYourself on-line application for graduate applicants with Mark Landerghini in Arts and Sciences Graduate Admission, Sarah Genter, and Way Leon with ITS. Good information that will help us transition from current to new vendor for grad apps. Need to bridge USF schools and colleges with one common application and software required to transfer data back and forth between application software and Banner ERP.
9:59 Call Admission office to leave message will be 5 minutes late for next meeting, phone answered, ‘USF Admission hold please,’ followed by dead silence, so will need to address need to improve customer service/phone courtesy later this morning.
10:10 meeting with Mark Priolo, Transfer Admission manager. Monthly one-on-one. Talked about transfer initiatives in Sacramento , processes for evaluating international transfer applications, spring numbers, spring yield events, professional development.
Mike at another meeting... busy day!
11:21 11 am meeting cancelled. Was to have met with Sheila Sullivan, Associate Dean, Graduate and Undergraduate Programs, to talk about anomalies to admission criteria for professional studies graduate students. Gives me a chance to eat an apple, then go talk with James Miller, Director of Admission Operations.
Talked with Sarah Genter about grad application and planning for admission processes for on-line programs to be offered to graduate students.
11:46 Finally e-mail. Except that B.J. stopped by to talk about my meeting with a coach to help with time and management skills, Professional Studies admission and recruiting.
12:17 meet with James, also talk about welcome packet to new admits, transfer admission application processing
12:30 Go to grab lunch – can of tuna (low cal, cheap) and meet Belinda Sandoval, Director of Freshman Admission on way, who tells me one of our counselors is sick with either strep throat or appendicitis (?!) Concerned for counselor and for 13,000 applications that need to be read by March 7. Take a minute at lunch to scan ‘Punahou Bulletin’ published by Punahou High School on Honolulu, which is one of our strongest feeder high schools.
12:47 Glance at e-mails (There are 130 in my inbox, and I’ve gotten to answer one so far today – not looking good. I really try to be responsive to e-mails, so it’s a constant challenge, especially on a day like today when it’s almost back-to-back meetings.) Now on to a ‘Stay On Track’ committee meeting where the university is pulling together means to help students graduate in four years. Advice to students: find an advisor, a mentor, someone who can help you plan your curriculum, to stay on top of the credits you’ve taken and those you’ll need to graduate in four years. Plan your study abroad semester early. Check in with the Graduation Center in One Stop Enrollment and Financial Services early to see if you’re on track to graduate. Read all of your USF e-mail. It may be important information that you’ll need to stay current with academic progress, with your student account – all of the things that will lead you to graduation on time.
1:00 Stay on Track meeting. Good discussions trying to round up consensus with about 25 people from campuses across departments. I’m glad I’m not chairing the committee. First proposal for an approach to a theoretical blueprint thrown out due to suggestions on better approach – less linear, more holistic. Second try is to throw tasks and responsibilities on the table that would need to be covered by a single advising center. Oddly, this works, and finally, by meeting’s end, we’re further along toward the blueprint than when we started – with everyone’s buy-in. Did more listening than contributing.
2:40 Back from Stay on Track. Another stab at e-mails. Samples: question on credits from another institution for a graduate student in Business and Professional Studies; status report on the surgery of a admission counselor’s mother (he needed time away to be there – again, balancing concern for counselor with need to get through files); daily spring registration statistics; data from a company that is helping us crunch numbers for admission and merit aid; details on position to support upcoming on-line courses, since they’ll all have to go through an admission process; and a request to carefully review an applicant who is of special interest to a member of the Jesuit community. We’re getting lots of requests on applicants, which is a balancing act, since we’ve got a LOT of applications, and can only admit a finite amount.
A stack of applications that Mike has to read
2:59 On my way to a meeting to discuss a new code on Banner, the student system, for students not admitted Early Action, when I’m waylaid by Mary Jane Kober, in Admission Reception, who informs me that there are parents and a daughter here for our 3:00 meeting. I do remember, but somehow, they’ve not made it to my calendar.
So we meet. The daughter has applied, but not been admitted Early Action because she has a grade point average in high school below a 2.5, and test scores below 400 on both Critical Reading and Math SAT scores. I’ve talked with both parents on the phone, who insisted they bring the applicant in to talk so I would know the kind of student she is, so I agreed. I always like to give people their due. Both the student and parents feel that, despite her academic record, they know she can do it when she gets to USF. She is also very interested in the faith-based education USF offers. I point out that the average gpa for students admitted thus far is over 3.8, and that the student would be in a class with students who had this kind of academic preparation, and that teachers would be teaching to this level. They know she can do it. I ask the student how she feels about it. ‘I know I can do it.’ The father points out that she is very talented. I explain that while we do look at all aspects of the students’ talents, we can’t forget the important academic piece. I tell them we will give her every consideration, but must be honest, in that it is doubtful she will be admitted. I walk them, talking, to the front door. This has taken more than an hour. I admire their persistence, but it wears me out. I wonder how many more conversations I will have with them.
4:15 I try to focus on e-mails, but at this point, I’m a little brain-dead and I’m tired. It’s the end of the week. I turn to something that doesn’t require much articulation – e-timesheets and expense report approvals. I think that tomorrow, Saturday, I should come in and read applications. The more I get done early, the less pressure there will be the first week of March when we need to get them done.
4:45 I have to get out of here. I’m meeting Fr. Donal Godfrey for dinner at six. I have to go home and walk the dog and change to get back to Loyola House by six.
6:00 Right on time. A glass of wine with Donal at Loyola House, very comfortable, meet a Jesuit who is stopping in San Francisco on his way to St. Peter’s in New Jersey, where he will be the director of Student Life. It’ s nice to relax in good company. After a glass of wine, on to dinner at Betelnut. Good conversation, as always, with Donal – some school talk, but lots of talk about Ireland, Donal’s home, travel, his ministry in the city. Lots of people loud and happy in the restaurant, a great distraction after some angst over a busy day.”
That is a day! Thanks, Mike, for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the Admission Office! As you can see, Mike and other other Academic and Enrollment Services employees have the daunting job of reading and evaluating all of the applications to USF. He most likely read yours! Mike is extremely dedicated, and his advice is excellent. You’ll run into Mike at least one more time while you’re here… at your graduation! Thanks again, Mike!