Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

November 2017

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter November 2017

"A Good Fit" by Dean of Enrollment Management Jennifer Hines

After 15 years at Nobles, I was given the gift of a year long sabbatical. I entered into it with a great deal of anticipation and plenty of plans about how I wanted to spend the time, and I’ll be honest, most of the plans involved doing things that working full time doesn’t easily lend itself to. Traveling was at the top of the list. My wife and I agreed on one guiding principle; we only wanted to see snow from distant mountaintops (the winter of 2014-15 weighed heavily on our decision making...). We rented out our house for the year and hit the road! Given that I literally removed myself from my daily life, I thought that I would be able to put my professional life aside until I returned to Nobles. Little did I know that the time away would lead me to an epiphany of sorts about the ways in which we seek to enroll mission-appropriate students at Nobles.

We spent an extended period in Australia and New Zealand and had arranged that a good deal of our time in those countries would be spent traveling by car. We wanted to have the experience of traveling at our own pace while also having the flexibility to change plans on the go. I will say in making these plans that we underestimated two things. One, driving long distances on the opposite side of the road than you are used to is not always as simple as it seems (rotaries, I’m thinking of you!). Two, the terrain of New Zealand, while stunning, means that a lot of your drives can be on what feels like the edge of cliffs where any mistake could mean your car plummets to an unfortunate end.

It was at the end of one of these drives that I pulled into a service station, completely white-knuckled on the steering wheel, heart rate elevated. I had to enter the small store to pay for gas, (sorry, petrol!), before pumping and by the time I returned to the car, there was an attendant pumping the petrol for me. I thanked her for her help and she said, “You don’t sound like you’re from around here. Oh wait!  Are you American? I’ve never met an American before and I’ve always wanted to!” I immediately felt the pressure of how to somehow represent a country of 350 million people to a New Zealander who had never left the North Island. She asked me what I did for a living. I explained my job and the very next thing she said to me was, “Huh. You decide who you want to admit, but do you know that everyone you admit will be happy at your school?”

I actually can’t remember the response that I gave her (hopefully something that doesn’t have her thinking disparagingly about Americans). She got me thinking about how successful we are or are not in admitting “mission-appropriate” students. It’s one thing to consider a student’s academic credentials and the activities they involve themselves with, but when you overlay who we are and what we stand for, it’s inevitable that some students will fit Nobles best. We are currently undergoing a review of our admission application and one of the things we are considering is how well the questions we ask ascertain “fit” of the student to our program. At the end of the day, I want to be sure that, while we want to know what students will bring to Nobles, it is as important to know how Nobles can shape them and hopefully bring them happiness. I think my friend in New Zealand would be pleased.

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