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Greg Pyke, senior dean of admission, stands outside the Office of Admission.
 
Posted 04.17.06

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 and report.”

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.”

 
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor