Q: Tara, when did you join Wesleyan’s Office of Admission?
A: I started working at Wesleyan in July of 2007.
Q: What are they key ways you recruit students to Wesleyan?
A: We recruit students in many different ways. Prospective students and their families visit our campus at all times of the year. We also travel all over the country and the world to spread the word about Wesleyan. We see every activity we undertake as recruiting.
Q: What percentage of your time is spent traveling? Which regions of the country do you oversee?
A: I spend about six to eight weeks a year traveling…so that’s about 15 percent of my total time spent on the road. I travel to Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Virginia, Maine, and the greater Boston area. I also oversee recruiting and applicants from West Virginia, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, but do not travel to these places.
Q: When visiting high schools, what information do you provide to the students? What are typical questions they have for you?
A: When I visit high schools, I’m basically taking my Wesleyan on-campus information session on the road. Each high school may be slightly different, so you tailor your message based on your audience. They typically have the same questions that visitors to campus have, but that varies pretty widely based on location and their familiarity with Wesleyan.
Q: What is the busiest time of the year for you and why?
A: I feel like all of the time is busy, to be honest. The nature of our work changes a lot during the course of the year. We spend the fall traveling, and then from November to March, we are hard at work reading applications. I am in charge of yield activities for the office, so April is a very busy month for convincing those admitted students to choose Wes. I think the only time that slows down here is the summer, where we get done all of the things we didn’t have time for during the rest of the year.
Q: You’re in charge of managing the Wesleyan Alumni Admission Volunteers (WAAV). How many alumni are in this group, and what is their role? Are you looking to recruit more volunteers?
A: The WAAV numbers are always changing, but we typically have more than 800 active volunteers. WAAV allow us to extend our reach beyond what our office is capable of doing on its own. They conduct interviews with prospective applicants, represent Wesleyan at college fairs around the country and the world, and contact prospective and admitted students to discuss Wesleyan. They are an incredibly valuable resource! We can always use more volunteers who are willing to help, especially if they live somewhere where Wesleyan is less well-known.
Q: What is your involvement with the Office of Admission website?
A: When we were redesigning the website last year, I worked on writing much of the text that you see on the website, as well consulted with those responsible for the design.
Q: How many deans of admission do you work with? What ultimately, is your department’s objective?
A: We have a total of 13 admission deans. We work as a team on many of our projects. We are all responsible for recruiting and application reading–even though we each have our regional responsibilities, it is ultimately a team effort. Each admission dean has several projects for which they are the point person. For me, those projects are WAAV, yield activities, tour guides, and student blogs. I coordinate these projects and work with other admission deans on each. Ultimately, we are trying to recruit the very best students who are the right fit for the academic and social culture at Wesleyan. All of these activities work toward this goal.
Q: You also supervise the Wesleyan tour guides. What makes an ideal tour guide, and what is involved in their training? Why are these tours so critical?
A: I have supervised the tour guide program for the last four years, but am actually leaving the program in the very capable hands of Assistant Dean David Thomas after this year. It is actually very difficult to become a tour guide at Wesleyan – last year we had 175 applications for 12 open positions on the tour guide staff. I think that speaks to the quality of the tour guide program and how much students love Wesleyan! Ideally, we are looking for intellectually and socially engaged students who can speak articulately about their Wesleyan experience. I hope that when someone takes a tour at Wesleyan, they want to go to school with the person giving their tour. The tours are potentially the most critical piece of our recruitment efforts for those who come to campus. I always impress upon tour guides that they may be the only representative of Wesleyan a prospective student or their family may meet while visiting.
Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in? What were you doing before coming to Wesleyan?
A: I attended Mount Holyoke College (Class of 2002), with a major in women’s studies, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst for my Masters of Education in higher education. I graduated from grad school a couple of months before starting at Wes. While I was a graduate student, I worked in the Office of the Faculty Senate at UMass, and before that I spent four years in the Office of Residential Life at Hampshire College.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I have been married to my partner Valerie for seven years this summer. We are relatively new homeowners (we bought our house in South Hadley, Mass. almost three years ago), so much of my time in that 85 percent of the year where I am home is spent on house projects. I’m a pop culture junkie, so a good chunk of my free time is taken up with watching television (and I’m not afraid to admit it!). I’m also an avid reader, but when you read applications for 12 hours a day or more for a good part of the year, sometimes reading for pleasure is hard to do.