|Greg Pyke, senior
dean of admission, stands outside the Office of Admission.
Associate Dean of Admission Gives Human Touch to All Those Applications
|Every year, the
Office of Admission begins with a prospective student pool of over 30,000
and mails information to another 88,000 based on PSAT and ACT scores and
grades. Of these, about 7,000 apply, and after review, this number is
whittled down to less than 2,000. Of this amount, ultimately, 720 of the
applicants will become Wesleyan’s newest freshman class.
As a senior associate dean of admission, Greg Pyke reviews hundreds of these
applications, and he meets almost as many potential applicants each year.
He’s currently preparing to welcome the Class of 2010. But the process that
got these students here is long and exacting.
Pyke and 10 other admissions personnel divvy up all the applications. Each
one must be reviewed at least twice before acceptance or denial is granted.
This year, Pyke and Leah Kelley, assistant dean of admission, reviewed
applicants from northern New England states, eastern Massachusetts,
Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Africa and Europe. Each application is
scrutinized not only for test scores, grades and achievements, but also for
traits that show the applicant would benefit from Wesleyan's educational
program and environment.
“We want our student body to have variety, so we’re looking for students who
have a combination of talents, experience, unique backgrounds and opinions,
and who have demonstrated social involvement,” Pyke explains.
Nancy Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid, determines which
students are accepted.
“Greg is the office data-base guru and numbers cruncher,” she says. “In that
work, as well, he brings the sensitivity of the practitioner to every task
Pyke seems to have a new job for every season.
In the fall he travels to schools across the country and the world, meeting
prospective students and parents. In winter, Pyke begins the process of
going through “the stack” – the hundreds of applications – with special
attention paid to those applying for early admission.
In spring, Pyke concentrates his efforts on convincing the accepted students
to choose Wesleyan through WesFest and face-to-face conversations. By June,
the incoming frosh class will be announced. In the summer, Pyke is busy
meeting and speaking with campus visitors, compiling statistics on the
incoming fall class, and planning his next year.
The process is cyclical year to year, with new changes and challenges
implemented every season.
“Never knowing what is coming next and wondering what questions or concerns
will arise the next year is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy working in
the Admission Office,” says Pyke, who has been a member of the department
since he started in at Wesleyan 1978.
And as for this years’ frosh, Pyke reports that the Class of 2009 comprised
6,879 applicants, of which 1,902, or 28 percent of those who applied, were
admitted. Of the 1,902, 71 percent were ranked in the top 10 percent of
their high school class; 13 percent are the first generation in their family
to go to college; 79 percent live outside of New England; 41 percent are
students of color; 77 percent have taken biology, chemistry and physics
before entering college; and 76 percent had studied a foreign language for
at least four years.
Pyke’s responsibilities have grown over the past 28 years. He previously
handled the transfer student admission process, and later the senior
interviewer program. He’s currently the statistical information reporter. In
this role, Pyke generates class profiles for the university, public media
and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, designed to collect
data from all primary providers of postsecondary education. He reports on
the total number of students accepted, students of color, geographical
information, average SAT and ACT stores, among several other factors.
In addition to reviewing college applications and collecting and reporting
statistical information, Pyke collaborates with Joan Adams, assistant to the
dean, on the High School Scholars Program. Through this program, local high
school seniors have the opportunity to take classes at Wesleyan with no
tuition charge. They attend classes with Wesleyan students, and are graded
on the same scale as a college student would be. Of the 23 high school
scholars who applied this past academic year: 15 were accepted into the program
and enrolled in courses either in the fall of ‘05 or the spring of ‘06.
“When parents ask me, ‘What is an average class size,’ I try to understand
what they are really asking. They don’t want me to say, 17.2 or some decimal
number,” Pyke says. “What they really want to know is, if their child will
be able to talk in class or will their child get to work with his professor
one on one? The answer cannot be given in a simple number. There is never a
short answer to a question or concern.”
Pyke knows some of the emotions parents go though during the college
application process. He and his wife, Karen Bovard ’77, have gone through
the procedure themselves with their two children Alan and Josh, who are both
currently enrolled in college. Pyke also has an older daughter, Jenny, who
was an interim class dean at Wesleyan and is currently in a similar,
permanent position at Mt. Holyoke College.
“Greg is such a wonderful colleague: smart, funny and thoughtful,” Meislahn
says. “He brings a great balance of Wesleyan history, as well as an
educator's and father's sensibility to the process. No one knows his or her
territory better. Greg helps us all understand the importance of access,
context and opportunity for each applicant.”
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection