An Inside Look at the Admissions Process
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw
When I was an undergraduate at Penn, I spent a lot of time asking undergraduate admissions and different administrators why there weren’t more Native students like me on campus. As I reflect on that time in my life, I am grateful for that experience. What I didn’t realize at the time of my graduation was the greatest life lessons were only just beginning.
Every admissions cycle, I learn more about what it takes to be admitted to college and what it means to enroll students that truly reflect the citizens of the world.
My professional experience has always been in undergraduate admissions. I started at the University of Pennsylvania, and then went to an organization called QuestBridge, a test prep company, and now I’m at Santa Clara University. Every admissions cycle, I learn more about what it takes to be admitted to college and what it means to enroll students that truly reflect the citizens of the world. I learn about demographics, merit, diversity, and the depth of a person’s story. I learn about gratitude and humility.
I read stories by incredible students who I know would make the college community better. Yet the very best part of what I’ve learned about college admissions is how many people care about bringing students to campus that will teach us something about ourselves and challenge their fellow students to think about their own perspectives.
Being admitted to college is multifaceted. We know that every student deserves to have their story heard, but there is no formula for the perfect story, candidate, or class. We look at a myriad of different factors to best evaluate why we feel that you, or someone you love, would be a great fit.
Attending a college that had a class full of students exactly like me wouldn’t show me anything about being human and I’d like to think that in my time of attending class with non-Native students, I taught them something as well. While I still look back on my own student activism with pride, I am more proud to be able to see it through the eyes of an admission officer and as someone who has always deeply cared about a diverse student body. I now know that through these experiences, I am able to help students like me through the admissions process to continue building diverse communities on campus. That is an amazing feeling.
Every student walking beside you or your loved one deserves to be there just as much as you do because we believed in and worked hard to make that decision.
What I ask of parents and students, who go through the undergraduate admissions process, is to know that my colleagues and I are in this field because we care about building a phenomenal class. Every student walking beside you or your loved one deserves to be there just as much as you do because we believed in and worked hard to make that decision. We know that the college experience is special because of the people who are a part of it. By engaging with perspectives different from your own, we know, you will become better for it. That’s what makes my career worthwhile – and it’s only the beginning.