insight into college admissions

I’m pretty sure that the Careers articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education are open to everyone. If not, please let me know in the comments. Today’s article is directly relevant to some of the discussion about how the admissions process looks. I thought it might be helpful to those of you you have never been on the other side of it.

Yet here I am, with two colleagues, about to speak to a few hundred high-school juniors and their parents: probably skeptical, jaded, and exhausted by their grand tour of liberal-arts colleges all over the Upper Midwest. Several important administrators are looking on, armed with statistics and quotations from the updated missional literature. I have just been introduced, and I am about to stand up.

What should I say? It’s always absurd to tell someone, “Just be yourself.” Which self should I be? Should I be dynamic and entertaining, or should I try to be a serious professor with big, important ideas? Should I talk about my teaching methods — my pedagogy — or should I just give them a representative episode from one of my classes? Should I be assertive about my beliefs, or should I do my best to be charming and inoffensive?

Who is my real audience, anyway: the parents, the students, or the administrators? Am I here to win converts? Am I here to scare the wrong sorts of students away? Am I auditioning for something? Will my head explode like that guy in Scanners?