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School changes admissions process

Admissions Director Jeanette Woo Chitjian. Photo by Don Hagopian.
Admissions Director Jeanette Woo Chitjian. Photo by Don Hagopian.

Director of Enrollment Management Jeanette Woo Chitjian and Associate Director of Admissions Christine Thornton changed the format of the Marlborough application process for prospective Middle School students. In an attempt to alleviate the stress applicants face during their interviews and give students and their families a better sense of the School, the new system updated the format of the open house to reflect more of a community experience; the new program also eliminated one-on-one interviews for all Middle School applicants and changed the shadow visit from a full-day to a half-day.

While students applying for 9th-11th grades will have the same interview process as before, the incoming seventh and eighth graders will be put in an “Afternoon Activity,” described by Woo Chitjian as a group project, discussion, and writing assignment.
Woo Chitjian and Thornton said they hoped to get a better sense of the applicants’ personalities in a setting among peers rather than through the traditional one-on-one interviews.

“The hope is that this is actually going to make it more comfortable for the girls. I think it can be pretty intimidating to come in as a sixth grader for these one-on-one interviews even though we try to make it more of a conversation. And other schools are starting to do this nationally. [It’s] a way that we could really see who they were but more in a group setting,” Thornton said.
Woo Chitjian said the afternoon activities give girls a glimpse of life at Marlborough because they will have a first-hand experience with peer-to-peer collaboration that happens in classrooms, teacher administered discussions, and everyday uses of classrooms like the SPARC.
In response to the changes, Caroline ’18 said she was concerned that these afternoon activities would have made her more anxious.
“Looking at girls based off of their social abilities and ability to interact in a group project is really unfair and does not give applicants a good chance to show who they are. As someone who is shy by nature, I think the added of stress of not only making a good impression on the interviewer, but also the other girls, would have made me stand back and appear as a follower,” she said.
But Thornton commented that girls who do not lead in the discussion will have a chance to show their personalities in the writing portion. The shadow days were also modified so that students now will only come from the start of the day until lunch. Thornton said she hopes this change will create a less tiring day for the applicants.

So far, Woo Chitjian said the feedback from the Middle School applicants and their parents has been positive. Parents appreciate the opportunity to ask questions of Director of Middle School Sean Fitts, and the students like the afternoon activities.
“The girls have said they really enjoy [the afternoon activities]. They think they are really fun. They like being stretched this way; they like solving problems.”