The following was published in our annual newsletter to school counselors, which mailed in September 2017.

Dear Counselor,

As I draft this year’s missive, I’m in the field conducting market research. And by “market research,” I mean that my husband and I have begun the college search adventure with our youngest. While I can’t promise I’m behaving at every stop (Jack set some ground rules I am trying very hard to follow), I am learning as much about what motivates students and families as I am about the colleges we are touring.

My most significant revelation is that many of the things that college admission offices spend the most time and money on may be the things that matter least to teenagers. I realize that families have different needs at different points in the college search process, as do the institutions that recruit them. But as my family marched along beside the earnest and the eager on tours, listening to questions posed by their well-intentioned parents, observing families’ side conversations, and interpreting body language for all involved, I was struck by the one simple thing they were all seeking: to belong.

I find this both reassuring and heartening. After all, I work at a place where relationships matter (heck, we still encourage interviews), and at Hamilton we view every offer of admission as an invitation to join our community. Of course we care a great deal about grades and rigor and testing (the kind of data you’ll find enclosed in this newsletter) and want to do what we can to ensure our students will be successful here, but we also move past the obvious and focus on the human elements and unique characteristics of incredibly interesting, talented, industrious, curious and passionate young people. I guess that makes our selection process a human one, and in the end, it isn’t so different from the way families approach their own college search.

As rejuvenating as it is to be visiting colleges with my son, I’m also finding ways to be reinvigorated on my own campus. My role is shifting so that I can spend more time better understanding the students we attract and enroll, making certain they are indeed a good fit for Hamilton, being intentional about their transition into our community, and ensuring we have the resources to keep the promises we make. While I will, no doubt, remain involved and hope to continue to stay in touch with our college counseling friends across the desk, I’m handing off the day-to-day leadership of the Admission Office to the very capable hands of T. Peaches Valdes, who joined us this summer as Hamilton’s Dean of Admission. If you know Peaches from her many years at Bryn Mawr, you likely know how great she is … and, if not, I’m confident you’ll soon be as impressed by her genuine warmth, student advocacy, ethical leadership, and steadfast professionalism as we are. In short, we think Peaches
belongs at Hamilton.

With deep gratitude for your partnership and collegiality, 

Monica C. Inzer
Vice President for Enrollment Management

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