My fall travels are O-V-E-R and I don’t need to get on a plane again until mid-February. No more checking weather.com to learn how to pack that suitcase. No more trying to decide whether to layer or just take that winter coat. No more perusing Google maps to figure out how to get from my hotel to wherever it is that I need to be. This is especially difficult as I have no sense of direction – all I needed to know growing up in Hawaii was whether someplace was mauka or makai. No more putting my life in the hands of NYC cab drivers. No more wishing and wishing for that upgrade to first class. Has anyone else noticed that since the United and Continental merger these upgrades are harder to come by? No more cursing those passengers who can’t figure out when they should board. No, Seating Area 3 does not board immediately after first class. No more trying to trying to unlock my hotel room door only to find that it’s not my room. Right, that was last night’s room number. But, why should you care about all of this? Well, this means I now can devote my full attention to your application. No more reading an application here and an application there. The reading season is now fully underway and it’s full steam ahead.
Now that I’m reading in earnest, let me tell you a little bit about my reading process and my reading habits. I get numerous distractions in the office over the course of the day and I sometimes find I cannot make the desired dent in my electronic reading stack so I actually do a lot of my reading at home. The hubby is watching football (insert any other sport here) or some History channel show (yuck – still don’t understand why he’s not a Criminal Minds fan) and the only child is off at college. All this equals no distractions. If I’m in the zone and have had a marathon reading day, I probably am not going to do the same thing again the next day. If you ran a marathon today, you’ll probably not run a second marathon tomorrow – you might instead take the day off from running or do a light workout. Ditto with file reading for me. Reading takes concentration and focus and it needs 100% attention. Some files are easy to read and the decision comes easily – there is depth to the application and everything ties in together. Things are connected and I am able to get a really good sense of who you are – how you think, what you think. Others, however, I labor over because I’m not able to easily put together the puzzle pieces and have to really dig to get to know you. It just depends on the file. Sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my Spidey sense starts tingling and those files take longer as well. Sometimes I come across a personal statement that is enthralling and that makes me push the file into the admit group. Sometimes I come across a personal statement that is appalling and that makes me push the file into the deny group. Sometimes everything falls into place and I jump up and down and start clapping – not literally, of course, but I will smile and you know which group this file ends up in. My critique of applications could be visualized, I suppose, along the lines of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Little Man icon for movie reviews . And, yes, sadly, there are times when an empty chair is appropriate.
Let me ask the same question I asked in the first paragraph of this posting. Why should you care about all of this? Three reasons. First, I want to highlight the importance of having that thread in your application that unifies things. Remember this – it is your responsibility to make sure that thread exists. It is your task to weave that thread in and to make sure it is there for me to discover. I will find it, but only if you have put it there to begin with. Second, excellent writing skills are so important and this comes through most significantly through the personal statement. Your task is not just to tell me a story, but to tell me a story in a well-written and compelling fashion. You may have one heck of a story, but if it’s not written well you can imagine which Little Man icon most accurately portrays my reaction. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for you as you wait out the decision process, I hope you will see that it’s not a simple and cursory review that takes place. You’ve put a lot of time into your application and I want you to know that I put a lot of time into reading what you have to say.