By Elizabeth Jamett
Director of College Guidance
Recently I was going through some papers and came across a photo of my first group of college advisees at the 1995 Holiday Festival. (Shout out to Class of 1996 members: Mike Howe, Elizabeth Broderick, Brian Legree, Lauren Copeland, Sara Mitchell, Kristin Wright, Kathy Leleszi, Tommy Delisle, Brendan Thomas, and Aaron Montgomery, all from the Class of 1996.) They were such a delightful crew. They are now over 40 years old, which I prefer not to think about.
So much has changed in the college world since the mid-1990s. When my first group of advisees applied to college, everything happened on paper. They would hand me completed applications, I would fill-out my portion, perhaps photocopy it, and then mail it to the appropriate admissions office. Now, everything is submitted electronically. In 1995 about 150 schools used the Common Application, this year it is almost 900. In 1996, the University of Michigan received about 21,000 first-year applications. Last year they amassed almost 65,000. The national conversation about college admissions has also shifted quite a bit since the mid-90’s. Some of the changes are positive. Despite the circumstances surrounding the “Varsity Blues” scandal, college admissions offices are more focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is part of the rationale for more colleges to shift to test optional or even test blind policies.
Some things have not changed. College remains a huge investment, but one that seems to ultimately yield benefits for students and society. And, I still get to work with a delightful group of seniors. The first director I worked with was Sue Frederick. Sue used to say that she loved working with seniors because they had one foot in our world and one foot in the next. That sentiment stuck with me, and it is something I think about often. Seniors spend the year saying goodbye to a place that has meant a great deal to them, while weighing what might be the most meaningful decision they have made thus far in their lives. It is a year that can be trying, but it can also result in tremendous growth and self-awareness.
Sometimes people will suggest that my job must be really stressful. It is not. There are certain times of year that are busy, but most days I feel like I have the best job at Liggett. I spend my days in support of students who are thinking about the next step on their journey to adulthood. While many things may have changed, that fact has not.