College decision season, in all its dark glory, is upon us.
The cutthroat college application process brings out the worst even as it's meant to celebrate the best. Students who've not yet celebrated their 18th birthdays create multipage CVs, altruistic volunteer efforts must be repackaged as resume line items and the staggering price-tag of an American college education creates a scramble for parents to send their kids to the schools where an expensive experience will produce the best return.
As an admissions director at Dartmouth College, Rebecca Sabky saw it all. In an opinion column published yesterday in The New York Times, Sabky writes that even the elite applicants she reviews — those who "climb mountains, head extracurricular clubs and develop new technologies" — bleed together after a while.
But every so often, even someone who has reviewed 30,000 applications in her decade-and-a-half as an admissions counselor encounters something new. Something pleasantly surprising. This year, that came in the form of a letter of recommendation written by a high school custodian.