Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Letter to the Editor

As a former assistant director of undergraduate admission at Northwestern and the person who hired Lily Becker two years ago, I am disappointed that someone would write such a hurtful and unfair editorial about her. Under my watch, she performed her job admirably, bringing warmth, kindness and a superb record of campus accomplishments to the job. Lily is a genuinely sweet and loving person who does not deserve the harsh judgment you gave her. Disregarding the fact that, in my experience, she is a wonderful tour guide, we’re not talking about a public figure who needs to be scrutinized to ensure the honest working of a government body. We’re talking about a nice, gentle girl doing her best to show people around a college campus.

Since you’re a Medill student, you know you have to verify your facts before a story goes to print – even if it’s an editorial.

A few points of clarification: The admission office must obtain permission each summer to showcase a room in a residence hall. It must be a room that is close to the route so the tour doesn’t extend from a reasonable length of time to an unwieldy and exhausting afternoon (or morning). Aside from that, the housing office chooses which room the office can show. A lot depends on where Cherubs and other students on campus for the summer are living since the tour can’t show an occupied room.

You note that “in [your] experience, [residential colleges are] the last place most people want to live.” That helps me make my next point. All a tour guide can draw from are her own experiences. I don’t remember where Lily lived, but maybe she lived in a residential college and loved it, or perhaps her friends did. The admission office never asks tour guides to embellish or lie about their experiences. It is the guide’s responsibility to best convey to visitors her personal Northwestern experience.The tour doesn’t have time to go up to North Campus, again, without making the visit much longer (and in the summer, sweatier) than most people would wish. Two years ago, under my watch, the office tried developing an alternate route that included North Campus. It didn’t work. People were uninterested and frequently dropped off the tour.

The admission office does not provide guides with a script that they are expected to memorize or adhere to. The booklet guides receive is a collection of facts about the university as well as a suggested route so that students with a range of academic interests feel satisfied with their trip. A Northwestern student majoring in trombone, for example, might not be an expert in chemical engineering, but the office provides at least a superficial amount of information on all six schools so the guide isn’t completely clueless when questioned.

The admission office discourages guides from talking about their test scores and where they applied for several reasons, most of which have to do with the anxiety level of the prospective student. The office doesn’t want the student comparing himself to the guide and thinking, “I got the same score, so I have a good chance of getting in!” or, conversely, that he scored well below the guide and doesn’t have a chance.

Philosophically, Northwestern uses a holistic approach to college admission where each aspect of the student’s application is a factor in the ultimate decision. It would be misleading to present a specific score as something that “worked” in the past. As far as talking about other schools, it’s just not good practice. Admission offices aren’t in the business of building rivalries or encouraging competition. Whether what a guide said about another college was good or bad, unless that guide was a transfer from that specific school they’ve never been a student there and can’t accurately speak to that experience. It’s a simple matter of respect.

Campus tours, as a product of the admission process, are an imperfect tool for representing a university to prospective students. But for high schoolers and their parents who want to see the campus with some semblance of a current student’s perspective, it’s the best method we’ve got.

-Lauren WilliamsonFormer Assistant Director of Undergraduate AdmissionCommunication ’02Medill ’08

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Letter to the Editor