Thursday, June 9, 2005

Columbia Is Hiring...

I got this email from the Columbia Alumni Association — my favorite alumni association — that's pretty much a jumble of Columbiana I couldn't care less about and pleas for my hard-earned money. There's, in big red letters: May Columbia's spirit roar in your heart forever!

I usually take Pepto-Bismol for that sort of thing.

But what really caught my eye was this little bit of Columbia news, which I'll indent for you.

Columbia's Office of Undergraduate Admissions is looking to fill three positions this summer (Admission Officer, Assistant Director of Admissions, Associate Director of Admissions). Position responsibilities involve extensive recruitment travel (30-40 days a year), reviewing a large volume of applications (1,000+) and specific programmatic responsibilities that may include coordinating publications and marketing efforts, managing athletic recruitment and selection, managing creative and performing arts recruitment and selection, directing on-campus programs, advising undergraduate student volunteers and/or directing the admission process for transfer students. The Assistant Director and Associate Director positions require previous admission experience. Anticipated start date is August 1, 2005. All positions are based on the Morningside Heights campus.
And I thought, here's my opportunity. My opportunity to deny Ivy League admission to every hyperactive Election-style over-achiever with a novella-length resume, to every steroid-pumped brain-dead athlete who shouts "Boo-yah" every time a touchdown is scored somewhere in the word, to the kid who's always wearing a cowboy hat even though he's from Boston or somewhere. I'll bet there's no better feeling in the world than sending that thin waitlist envelope to a valedictorian and making him cry. But the point of being a student cum admissions officer is molding the school into the intellectual haven it wasn't back when I went there.

It didn't take all that much consideration before I realized that this was not the job for me, and not only because, far from wanting to improve Columbia, I hope the place deteriorates until everybody there is as miserable as I was. What really turned me off was the opportunity to read over a thousand applications, at least half of which would inevitably be about some first generation American's struggle to realize their immigrant parents' dream, and I don't think I'd be able to stand that sappy crap. I guess that technically I wouldn't have to read all the essays: Columbia mandates a freshman-year writing course that's designed to bludgeon all the uncollegiate communication habits out of your system anyway. And despite the appeal of holding these high school students' fates at my obviously short supply of mercy, I just don't want to be involved in a job where I have to accept anyone for college.

I could be the person who writes the respectfully condescending rejection letters, the ones that begin with, "We regret to inform you..." and then it doesn't really matter what bullshit they say cause no one reads any further. I do that job for free. And I'd sneak in something about perhaps you should join the circus... or try a state school. [insert maniacal evil laughter here]