Hamline News

Inside the Admissions Office

inside office article


The college admission process can be a confusing one. When considering academics, athletics, financial aid, student organizations, internships, research, location, reputation—how can a student choose? Where does a student start? While the questions pile up, the Hamline University Office of Admission staff offers you an insider’s perspective.

When should a high school student start looking at colleges?
It is never too early to begin the search process. Take advantage of any college-viewing opportunities, such as family vacations or trips. The sooner a student can pin down the type of college (large or small, rural or urban, private or public) he or she prefers, the better. As a student enters the summer between junior and senior year of high school, we recommend official campus visits to meet with admissions staff and tour the college. Discuss next steps and find out what makes a college distinctive.

When there is so much information on the Internet, why visit a college?
Unless you plan to attend an online university, you can’t you really get the feel of what it is like to attend classes, make connections with professors, and walk across campus. Frequently asked questions can be answered through online content, but it’s best for a student to gain experiences at a college in person, particularly before committing to four years.

What is the most important thing to do when visiting college campuses?
Talk with current students! When touring a college, be sure to take advantage of the resources wandering around campus, and ask a student his or her favorite feature of the university. Don’t be bashful asking his or her not-so-favorite parts. Take every opportunity to find out what life is like for a current student.

How influential is the relationship between applicant and admission counselor?
Admission counselors are your connection between the student and the admission committee. A strong relationship with the counselor will allow the admissions professional to advocate on your behalf. Counselors will not only know a student’s scores, grades, and abilities, but they also will be familiar with your strong desire to be a member of the community... If there is an inconsistency in an academic record, tell the counselor why. The more an admission counselor knows about a student, the better. Counselors have the student’s best interests in mind and are uniquely equipped to help students succeed through the admission process.

What should students write in their essays/personal statements? How important are they?
The personal statement or writing sample is a chance for the admission counselor to get to know the student, especially if a one-on-one meeting has not been possible. High impact essays are personal and provide a window into the student’s life and personality. Graded academic papers are acceptable, but sometimes it is the easy way out. It is hard to make a connection with a student if the only writing sample is a book report or research paper. If an academic paper is submitted, the student should consider also including a personal statement about himself and his life—give admission professionals something to connect with. There is more to a student than test scores and grades. A well-written writing sample exemplifies the intangibles that are important.

How important are letters of recommendation to the application process?
Recommendations are another opportunity to gain insight into a student’s strengths. Recommendations should be written by someone who knows the student well and can speak to the student’s performance. A recognizable name doesn’t matter (such as a well-known person or alumnus) if the writer doesn’t know the student.

How can anyone afford college these days—particularly a private college?
Working hard to get good grades throughout a student’s high school career may result in more merit-based aid on the college level. Most colleges offer options to finance a student’s education. The typical Hamline student receives a financial aid package made up of Hamline grants or scholarships, low-interest loans, an on-campus job, state and federal grants, and outside scholarships. Everyone should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be sure a student is considered for all types of aid.

Why should someone pay the cost to attend a private college?
At Hamline, students are not just paying for a degree but for the quality of the experience. Close connections are made with faculty and classmates that enrich the academic experience. Internships, student organizations, and studying abroad help build the whole student by developing leadership and maturity as well as resumes. In addition, Hamline has a four-year graduation assurance that limits the total cost compared to the typical five or six years at public institutions.

How can alumni help the Hamline University Office of Admission?
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to show Hamline’s value. A majority of our applicants come to us because they heard a favorable word from you, someone who has attended Hamline.

By: Sarah Kirchner