Saturday, March 14, 2009

Being here

Sue and I are awaiting our first at-large pile to read, so I thought I would add a few comments on the experience of being here when my own candidates' files are read.

Grinnell nominated four candidates in the Udall competition this year. First, I have to say that the foundation is absolutely scrupulous in keeping advisors away from their candidate's files. Obviously, we don't read or score our own files. But more than that, they don't even tell us much about what teams are reading which regions, and the boxes of files that contain scholarship winners are sitting on the table in front of me, but are turned away so I can't see any of them. I honestly have no idea how any of the four are fairing, and won't find out any earlier than the rest of you.

Despite these efforts, though, it's in the air. Yesterday I was walking back to my table when my eye caught the familiar Grinnell College letterhead and laurel leaf on the top of a letter of recommendation that another team was reading. Gulp. I don't know which file, or which region, or what the decision was, but it was a little distracting. That team over there is making a decision about one of my candidates right now. In some ways, it's easier when we just seal up that FedEx envelope, sprinkle the magic good luck powder on it, and send it on its way -- then hear weeks later what the outcome is. We know, logically, that the decision is made at some specific, defined moment between those two points in time, but we don't know exactly when, or where, or by whom. Except in this case.

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